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cimcheall wa 

ROUND IRELAND : So wrote the 
topographer, John O'Dugan, five 
hundred years ago, when begin- 
ning his poetical description of 
Ireland, and so I address my readers 
to-day. The journey will be at least a novel 
one; and to those who are interested in the 
topography of our country, in the origin of local 
names, or in the philosophy of language, it may 
be attended with some instruction and amusement. 
The materials of this book were collected, and 
the book itself was written, in the intervals of 
serious and absorbing duties. The work of col- 
lection, arrangement, and composition, was to me 
a never-failing source of pleasure; it was often 
interrupted and resumed at long intervals; and 

T. Preface. 

if ever it involved labour, it was really and truly 
a labour of love. 

I might have illustrated various portions of the 
book by reference to the local etymologies of 
other countries ; and this was indeed my original 
intention ; but I soon abandoned it, for I found 
that the materials I had in hands, relating ex- 
clusively to my own country, were more than 
enough for the space at my disposal. 

Quotations from other languages I have, all 
through, translated into English; and I have 
given in brackets the pronunciation of the prin- 
cipal Irish w/>rds, as nearly as could be repre- 
sented by English letters. 

The local nomenclature of most countries of 
Europe is made up of the languages of various 
races : that of Great Britain, for instance, is a 
mixture of Celtic, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Danish, 
and Norman French words, indicating successive 
invasions, and interesting and valuable for that 
very reason, as a means of historical research ; 
but often perplexingly interwoven and difficult 
to unravel. In our island, there was scarcely 
any admixture of races, till the introduction of 
an important English element, chiefly within the 
last three hundred years for, as I have shown 
(p. 105), the Danish irruptions produced no 
appreciable effect; and accordingly, our place- 
names are purely Celtic, with the exception of 
about a thirteenth part, which are English, and 

Preface. til 

mostly of recent introduction. This great name 
system, begun thousands of years ago by the 
first wave of population that reached our island, 
was continued unceasingly from age to age, till it 
embraced the minutest features of the country in 
its intricate net- work ; and such as it sprang 
forth from the minds of our ancestors, it exists 
almost unchanged to this day. 

This is the first book ever written on the 
subject. In this respect I am somewhat in the 
position of a settler in a new country, who has all 
the advantages of priority of claim, but who 
purchases them too dearly perhaps, by the labour 
and difficulty of tracking his way through the 
wilderness, and clearing his settlement from 
primeval forest and tangled underwood. 

On the journey I have travelled, false lights 
glimmered every step of the way, some of which 
I have pointed out for the direction of future 
explorers. But I have had the advantage of twc 
safe guides, Dr. John O'Donovan, and the Rev. 
William Reeves, D.D. : for these two great scho- 
lars have been specially distinguished, among the 
honoured labourers in the field of Irish literature, 
by their success in elucidating the topography of 

To the Rev. Dr. Reeves I am deeply indebted 
for his advice and assistance, generously volun- 
teered to me from the very beginning. He 
examined my proposed plan of the book in the 

viii Preface. 

first instance, and afterwards, during its progress 
through the press, read the proof sheets all 
with an amount of attention and care, which 
could only be appreciated by an actual inspection 
of the well annotated pages, abounding with 
remarks, criticisms, and corrections. How in- 
valuable this was to me, the reader will understand 
when he remembers that Dr. Reeves is the 
highest living authority on the subject of Irish 

My friend, Mr. William M. Hennossy, was 
ever ready to place at my disposal his great 
knowledge of the Irish language, and of Irish 
topography. And Mr. O'Longan, of the Royal 
Irish Academy, kindly lent me some important 
manuscripts from his private collection, of which 
I have made use in several parts of the book. 

I have to record my thanks to Captain Berdoe 
A. Wilkinson, R.E., of the Ordnance Survey, for 
his kindness in procuring permission for me to 
read the Manuscripts deposited in his office, 
Phoenix Park. And I should be guilty of great 
injustice if I failed to acknowledge the uniform 
courtesy I experienced from Mr. Mooney, Chief 
Clerk in the same office, and the readiness with 
which both he and Mr. O'Lawlor facilitated my 

I have also to thank the Council of the Royal 
Irish Academy for granting me permission 
long before I had the honour of being elected a 

Preface. ix 

member of that learned body to make use of 
their library, and to consult their precious collec- 
tion of Manuscripts. 
.DUBLIN, July, 1869. 

THE following is a list of the principal historical 
and topographical works on Ireland published 
within the last twenty years or so, which I have 
quoted through the book, and from which I have 
derived a large part of my materials : 

The Annals of the Four Masters, translated and edited 
by John O'Donovan, LL.D., M.R.I.A. ; published 
by Hodges and Smith, Dublin ; the noblest histo- 
rical work on Ireland ever issued by any Irish 
publisher a book which every man should pos- 
sess, who wishes to obtain a thorough knowledge 
of the history, topography, and antiquities of 

The Book of Bights; published by the Celtic Society; 
translated and edited by John O'Donovan. 
Abounding in information on the ancient tribes 
and territories of Ireland. 

The Battle of Moylena : Celt. Soc. Translated and 
edited by Eugene O'Curry, M.B.I.A. 

The Battle of Moyrath: Irish Arch. Soc. Trans- 
lated and edited by John O'Donovan. 

The Tribes and Customs of the district of Hy-Many : 
Irish Arch. Soc. Translated and edited by John 

jt Preface. 

The Tribes and Customs of the district of Hy- 
Fiachrach : Irish Arch. Soc. Translated and 
edited by John O'Donovan (quoted as "Hy- 
Fiachrach " through this book). * 

A Description of H-Iar Connaught. By Roderick 
O'Flaherty: Irish Arch. Soc. Edited by James 
Hardiman, M.B.I.A. 

The Irish version of the Historia Britonnm of Nen- 
nius : Irish Arch. Soc. Translated aud edited by 
James Henthorn Todd, D.D., M.RI.A. 

Archbishop Colton's Visitation of the Diocese of 
Derry, 1397: Irish Arch. Soc. Edited by the 
Rev. William Reeves, D.D., M.B.I.A. 

Cambrensis Eversus. By Dr. John Lynch, 1662 : 
Celt. Soc. Translated and edited by the Rev. 
Matthew Kelly. 

The Life of St. Columba. By Adamnan : Irish Arch, 
and Celt. Soc. Edited by the Rev. William 
Reeves, D.D., M.B., V.P.R.I.A. This book and 
the next contain a vast amount of local and his- 
torical information, drawn from every conceivable 

Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Down, Connor, and Dro- 
more. Edited by the Rev. William Reeves, D.D. 
M.B., M.R.I.A. (Quoted as the "Taxation of 
1306," and " Reeves' Eccl. Ant."). 

The Topographical Poems of O'Dugan and O'Heeren : 
Irish Arch, and Celt. Soc. Translated and edited 
by John O'Donovan. 

The Calendar of the O'Clerys; or, the Martyrology 
of Donegal ; Irish Arch, and Celt. Soc. Trans- 
lated by John O'Donovan. Edited by Jamer 

Preface. xi 

Henthorn Todd, D.D., M.R.I.A., F.S.A. -. and the 
Rev. William Beeves, D.D., M.R.I. A. (quoted as 
"O'C. CaL"). 

The Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill. Published 
under the direction of the Master of the Rolls. 
Translated and edited by James Henthorn Todd, 
D.D., &c. (Quoted as "Wars of GG.")- 

The Chronicon Scotorum. Published under the di- 
rection of the Master of the Rolls. Translated 
and edited by William M. Hennessy, M.R.I.A. 

Cormac's Glossary; translated by John O'Donovan; 
edited by Whitley Stokes, LL.D. 

Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient 
Irish History; delivered at the Catholic University 
by Eugene O'Curry, M.R.I.A. Published by 
James Duffy, Dublin and London. 

The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland ; compris- 
ing an Essay on the Origin and Uses of the 
Round Towers of Ireland. By George Petrie, 
R.H.A., V.P.R.I.A. 

Among these, I must not omit to mention that most 
invaluable work to the student of Irish Topography 
and History, " The General Alphabetical Index to 
the Townlands and Towns, the Parishes and Ba- 
ronies of Ireland :" Census 1861: which was ever 
in my hands during the progress of the book, and 
without the help of which, I scarcely know how I 
should have been able to write it. 

I have also consulted, and turned to good account, 
the various publications of the Ossianic Society, 
which are full of information on the legends, 
traditions, and fairy mythology of Ireland. 

xii Preface. 

On the most ancient forms of the various Irish root- 
words and on the corresponding or cognate words 
in other languages, I have derived my information 
chiefly from Professor Pictet's admirable work, 
" Les Origines Indo-Europeennes, on. les Aryas 
Primitifs : " Zeuss' masterly work, " Grammatica 
Celtica," in which the author quotes in every case 
from manuscripts of the eighth, or the beginning 
of the ninth century : Ebel's Celtic Studies : 
translated by Wm. K. Sullivan, Ph.D., M.B.I.A. : 
Irish Glosses ; a Mediaeval Tract on Latin Declen- 
sion, by Whitley Stokes, A.B. ; and an Edition 
with notes of Three Ancient Irish Glossaries 
by the same accomplished philologist. 


Lectures on the Manners and Customs of the Ancient 
Irish. By Eugene 0' Curry, M.R.I. A. Edited, 
with Introduction, Appendices, &c., by W. K 
Sullivan, Ph. D. Published in 1873. 





CHAPTER I. How the Meanings have been ascer- 
tained, ...... 1 

CHAPTER II. Systematic Changes, . . . .17 

CHAPTER III. Corruptions ,47 

CIIAPTKK IV. False Etymologies ,69 

CHAPTJJB V. The Antiquity of Irish Local Names, , 76 



CHAPTER I. Historical Events, , , . , 86 

CHAPTER II. Historical Personages, ... 121 

CHAPTER III. Early Irish Saints, .... 142 

CHAPTER IV. Legends, 159 

CHAPTER V. Fairies, Demons, Goblins, and Ghosts, 178 

CHAPTER VI. Customs, Amusements, and Occupations, 200 

CHAPTER VII. Agriculture and Pasturage, . . . 227 

CHAPTER VIII. Subdivisions and Measures of Land, . 241 

IX. Numerical Combinations, . . 246 






. 266 

CHAPTER I. Habitations and Fortresses, 






CHAPTER VII. Mills and Kilns, 

Ecclesiastical Edifices, . . . .312 
Monuments, Graves, and Cemeteries, . 329 

. Towns and Villages 347 

Fords, Weirs, and Bridges, . . . 385 
Roads and Causeways, . . 370 
















Mountains, Hills, and Rocks, . . 378 

Plains, Valleys, Hollows and Caves, . 422 

Islands, Peninsulas, and Strands, . 440 

Water, Lakes, and Springs, . . 446 

Rivers, Streamlets, and Waterfalls, . 454 
Marshes and JJogs, . . . .461 

Animals, ** ^& 

Plants, 491 

Shape and Position, . . . 522 


I.M>tX Of UOOT \VOK1J3, 







>| HE interpretation of a name 
involves two processes : the 
discovery of the ancient 
orthography, and the de- 
termination of the meaning of 
this original form. So far as 
Irish local names are concerned, 
the first is generally the most 
troublesome, while the second, with some excep- 
tions, presents no great difficulty to an Irish 

There are cases, however, in which, although 

we have very old forms of the names, we are still 

-unable to determine the meaning with any degree 

of certainty. In somo of these, it is certain that 

VOL. i. 2 

2 The Irish Local Name System. [PARTI 

we are not in possession of the most ancient 
orthography, and that the old forms handed down 
to'us are nothing more than corruptions of others 
still older ; but in most cases of this kind, our 
ignorance is very probably due to the fact that 
the root- words of which the names are composed 
became obsolete before our most ancient manu- 
scripts were written. Names of this class chal- 
lenge the investigation, not so much of the Irish 
scholar, as of the general philologist. 

With respect to the names occurring in this 
book, the Irish form and the signification are, 
generally speaking, sufficiently well known to 
warrant a certain conclusion ; and accordingly, as 
the reader may observe, I have interpreted them 
in almost all cases without any appearance of 
hesitation or uncertainty. There are indeed names 
in every part of the country, about whose mean- 
ing we are still in the dark ; but these I have 
generally avoided, for I believe it to be not only 
useless but pernicious to indulge in conjecture 
where certainty, or something approaching it, is 
not attainable. I have given my authority when- 
ever I considered it necessary or important ; but 
as it would be impossible to do so in all cases 
without encumbering the book with references, 
and in order to remove any doubt as to the correct- 
ness of the interpretations, I shall give here a short 
sketch of the various methods by which the 
meanings have been ascertained. 

I. A vast number of our local names are per- 
fectly intelligible, as they stand in their present 
Anglicised orthography, to any person who has 
studied the phonetic laws by which they have 
been reduced from ancient to modern forms. 
There can be no doubt that the Irish name of 
Carricknadarriff, in the parish of Annahilt 

CHAP. i/] How Meanings have been ascertained. 3 

county of Down, is Carraig-na-dtarbh, the rock 
of the bulls ; that Boherboy, the name of a vil- 
lage in Cork, and of several places in other 
counties, means yellow road (Bothar-buidhe) ; or 
that Knockaunbaun in Galway and Mayo, signifies 
white little hill. 

But this process requires check and caution ; 
the modern forms, however obvious in appearance, 
are often treacherous ; and whoever relies on them 
with un watchful confidence will sooner or later be 
led into error. Carrick-on-Suir is what it appears 
to be, for the Four Masters and other authorities 
write it Carraig-na-Siuire, the rock of the Suir ; 
and it appears to have got its name from a large 
rock in the bed of the river. But if anyone 
should interpret Carrick-on-Shannon in the same 
way, he would find himself mistaken. The old 
English name of the town was Carrickdrumrusk. 
as it appears on the Down Survey map ; but the 
first part should be Carra, not Carrick, to which 
it has been corrupted ; for the place got its name 
not from a rock, but from an ancient carra or 
weir across the Shannon ; and accordingly the 
Four Masters write it Caradh-droma-ruisc, the 
weir of Drumroosk. Drumroosk itself is the 
name of several townlands in the north-western 
counties, and signifies the ridge of the roosk or 

II. In numerous other cases, when the original 
forms are so far disguised by their English dress, 
as to be in any degree doubtful, they may be dis- 
covered by causing the names to be pronounced in 
Irish by the natives of the respective localities. 
When pronounced in this manner, they become 
in general perfectly intelligible to an Irish scholar 
as much so as the names Queenstown and New- 
castle are to the reader. Lisnanees is the name 

4 The Irish Local Name System. [PAUT i. 

:>f a place near Letterkenny, and whoever would 
indertake to interpret it as it stands would pro- 
bably find himself puzzled ; but it becomes plain 
enough when you hear the natives pronounce it 
with a g at the end, which has been lately 
dropped : Lios-na-naosg [Lisnaneesg], the fort 
of the snipes (naosg, a snipe). 

There is a small double lake, or rather two 
little lakes close together, three miles from Glen- 
garriff in Cork, on the left of the road to Castle- 
town Bearhaven. They are called on the map? 
Lough Avaul a name I could never understand, 
till I heard the local pronunciation, which at once 
removed the difficulty ; the people pronounce it 
Lough- aw-woul, which anyone with a little know- 
ledge of Irish will recognise as Loch-dha-bhall, 
the lake of the two spots, a name that describes it 
with perfect correctness. 

Take as another example Ballylongford near 
the Shannon in Kerry : as it stands it is deceptive, 
the first part of the name being apparently Bally 
a town, which in reality it is not. I have a 
hundred times heard it pronounced by the natives, 
who always call it in Irish Beal-atha-longphuirt 
[Bellalongfort], the ford-mouth of the fortress. 
The name was originally applied to the ford over 
the little river, long before the erection of the 
bridge ; and it was so called, no doubt, because 
it led to the longphort or fortress of Carrigaf oyle, 
two miles distant. (See Ballyshannon). 

Of this mode of arriving at the original forms 
of names I have made ample use ; I have had 
great numbers of places named in Irish, either in 
the very localities, or by natives whom I have met 
from time to time in Dublin ; and in this respect 
I have got much valuable information from the 
national schoolmasters who come twice, a year 

CHA?. i.] Hou) Meanings have been ascertained. 5 

from every part of Ireland to the Central Training 
Establishment in Dublin. But in this method, 
also, the investigator must be very cautious ; names 
are often corrupted in Irish as well as in English, 
and the pronunciation of the people should be 
tested, whenever possible, by higher authority. 

The more intelligent of the Irish-speaking pea- 
santry may often assist the inquirer in determining 
the meaning also ; but here he must proceed with 
the utmost circumspection, and make careful use 
of his own experience and judgment. It is very 
dangerous to depend on the etymologies of the 
people, who are full of imagination, and will 
often quite distort a word to meet some fanciful 
derivation; or they will account for a name by 
some silly story obviously of recent invention, and 
so far as the origin of the name is concerned, not 
worth a moment's consideration. 

The well-known castle of Carrigogunnell near 
the Shannon in Limerick, is universally under- 
stood by the inhabitants to mean the candle rock, 
as if it were Carraig-na-gcoinneall ; and they tell 
a wild legend, to account for the name, about a 
certain old witch, who in times long ago lived on 
it, and every night lighted an enchanted candle, 
which could be seen far over the plain of Limerick, 
and which immediately struck dead any person 
who caught even its faintest glimmer. She was 
at last vanquished and destroyed by St. Patrick ; 
but she and her candle are immortalised in many 
modern tourist books, and, among others, in Mrs. 
Hall's "Ireland," where the reader will find a 
well-told version of the story. But the Four 
Masters mention the place repeatedly, and always 
call it Carraig-0-gCoinnell, with which the pro- 
nunciation of the peasantry exactly agrees ; this 
admits of no exercise of the imagination, and 

6 The Irish Local Name System. [PART 1. 

banishes the old witch and her candle more 
ruthlessly than even St. Patrick himself, for it 
means simply the rock of the O'Connells, who 
were no doubt the original owners. 

The meaning of a name, otherwise doubtful, 
will often be explained by a knowledge of the 
locality. Quilcagh mountain in the north-west of 
Cavan, near the base of which the Shannon rises, 
is called in Irish by the inhabitants Cailceach 
[Calkagh], which literally signifies chalky (Ir. 
cailc, chalk ; Lat. calx] ; and the first view of the 
hill will show the correctness of the name ; for it 
presents a remarkably white face, due to the 
presence of quartz pebbles, which are even brought 
down in the beds of streams, and are used foi 
garden- walks, &c. 

Carrantuohill in Kerry, the highest mountain 
in Ireland, is always called throughout Munster, 
Carraunthoohill, and the peasantry will tell you 
that it means an inverted reaping-hook, a name 
which is apparently so absurd for a mountain, that 
many reject the interpretation as mere silliness. 
Yet whoever looks at the peak from about the 
middle of the Hag's Valley, will see at once that 
the people are quite right ; it descends on the 
Killarney side by a curved edge, which the spec- 
tator catches in profile, all jagged and serrated 
with great masses of rock projecting like teeth, 
without a single interruption, almost the whole 
way down. The word tuathail [thoohill] means 
literally left-handed ; but it is applied to anything 
reversed from its proper direction or position ; and 
the great peak is most correctly described by the 
name Carran-tuathail, for the edge is toothed like 
the edge of a carrdn, or reaping-hook ; but it 
is a reaping-hook reversed, for the teeth are on a 
convex instead of a concave edge. 

CHAP. i.J Hoic Meanings have been ascertained. ' 

III. The late Dr. O'Donovan, wliile engaged in 
the Ordnance Survey, travelled over a great part 
of Ireland, collecting information on the traditions, 
topography, and antiquities of the country. The 
results of these investigations he embodied in a 
series of letters, which are now deposited in the 
Royal Irish Academy, bound up in volumes ; and 
they form the most valuable body of information 
on Irish topography in existence. 

His usual plan was to seek out the oldest and 
most intelligent of the Irish-speaking peasantry 
in each locality, many of whom are named in his 
letters; and besides numberless other inquiries, 
he caused them to pronounce the townland and 
other names, and used their assistance in inter- 
preting them. His interpretations are contained 
in what are called the Field Name Books, a series 
of several thousand small parchment- covered 
volumes, now lying tied up in bundles in the 
Ordnance Office, Phoenix Park. The names of 
all the townlands, towns, and parishes, and of 
every important physical feature in Ireland, are 
contained in these books, restored to their ori- 
ginal Irish forms, and translated into English, 
so far as O'Donovan's own knowledge, and the 
information he received, enabled him to determine. 

There are, however, numerous localities in every 
one of the thirty-two counties that he was unable 
to visit personally, and in these cases, instead of 
himself hei ring the names pronounced, he was 
obliged to content himself with the various modes 
of spelling them prevalent in the neighbourhood, 
or with the pronunciation taken down by others 
from the mouths of the people, as nearly as they 
were able to represent it by English letters. He 
had a wonderful instinct in arriving at the mean- 
ings of names, but the information he received 

8 The Irish Locat Name Syi 'em. [PARTI. 

from deputies often left him in great doubt, which 
he not unfrequently expresses ; and his interpre- 
tations, in such cases, are to be received with 
caution, based, as they often are, on corrupt spell- 
ing, or on doubtful information. 

So far as time permitted, I have consulted 
O'Donovan's letters, and the Field Name Books, 
and I have made full use of the information de- 
rived from these sources. I have had frequently 
to use my own judgment in correcting what other 
and older authorities proved to be erroneous ; but 
I do not wish, by this remark, to underrate the 
value and extent of the information I have re- 
ceived from O'Donovan's manuscript writings. 

I will give a few illustrations of names re- 
covered in this way. There is a townland in 
Cavan called Castleterra, which gives name to a 
parish ; the proper pronunciation, as O'Donovan 
found by conversation with the people, is Cussa- 
tirry, representing the Irish Cos-a'-tsiwraigh, the 
foot of the colt, which has been so strangely cor- 
rupted ; they accounted for the name by a legend, 
and they showed him a stone in the townland on 
which was the impression of a colt's foot. 

In the parish of Kilmore, in the same county, 
the townland of Derrywinny was called by an in- 
telligent old man, Doire-bhainne, and interpreted, 
both by him and O'Donovan, the oak- grove of the 
milk ; so called, very probably, from a grove 
where cows used to be milked. Farnamurry near 
Nenagh in Tipperary, was pronounced Farrany- 
murry, showing that the name is much shortened, 
and really signifies O'Murray's land ; and Bally- 
hoos in Clonfert, Galway, was stripped of its de- 
ceptive garb by being called Bile-chuais, the old 
tree of the coos or cave. 

IV. We have a vast quantity of topographical 

CHAP, i.] How Meanings have been ascertained. 9 

and other literature, written from a very early 
period down to the 17th century, in the Irish lan- 
guage, by native writers. Much of this has been 
lately published and translated, but far the greater 
part remains still unpublished. 

Generally speaking, the writers of these manu- 
scripts were singularly careful to transmit the 
correct ancient forms of such names of places as 
they had occasion to mention ; and accordingly it 
may be stated as a rule, subject to occasional ex- 
ceptions, that the same names are always found 
spelled in the same way by all our ancient writers, 
or with trifling differences depending on the period 
in which they were transcribed, and not affecting 
the etymology. 

At those early times, the names which are now 
for the most part unmeaning sounds to the people 
using them, were quite intelligible, especially to 
skilled Irish scholars ; and this accounts for the 
almost universal correctness with which they 
have been transmitted to us. 

This is one of the most valuable of all sources of 
information to a student of Irish local names, and 
it is, of course, of higher authority than those I 
have already enumerated : with the ancient forms 
restored, it usually requires only a competent 
knowledge of the Irish language to understand 
and interpret them. I have consulted all the 
published volumes, and also several of the unpub- 
lished manuscripts in Trinity College and the 
Royal Irish Academy. Great numbers of the 
names occurring in the texts have been translated 
in footnotes by the editors of the various pub- 
lished manuscripts, and I have generally availed 
myself of their authority. A list of the principal 
works already published will be found in the 

10 The Irish Local Name System. [PART I. 

Many of the local names occurring in these 
manuscripts are extinct, but the greater number 
exist at the present day, though disguised in an 
English dress, and often very much altered. In 
every such case it becomes a question to identify 
the ancient with the modern name to show that 
the latter is only a different form of the former, 
and that they both apply to the same place. A 
great deal has been done in this direction by Dr. 
O 'Donovan, Dr. Reeves, and other editors of the 
published manuscripts, and I have generally 
adopted their identifications. 

This method of investigation will be understood 
from the following examples : At the year 586, 
it is stated by the Four Masters that Bran Dubh, 
King of Leinster, gained a battle over the Hy 
Neill " at the hill over Cluain-Conaire ;" and they 
also record, at the year 837, that a great royal 
meeting took place there, between Niall Caille, 
king of Ireland, and Felimy (son of Criffan), 
king of Munster. In a gloss to the Calendar of 
Aengus the Culdee, at the 16th of September, 
Cluain-Conaire is stated to be "in the north of 
Hy Faelain;" and this clearly identifies it with 
the modern townland of Cloncurry, which gives 
name to a parish in Kildare, between Kilcock and 
Innfield, since we know that Hy Faelain was a 
territory occupying the north of that county. As 
a further corroboration of this, the old translator 
of the Annals of Ulster, in rendering the record of 
the meeting in 837, makes the name Cloncurry. 

Once we have arrived at the form Cluain- Conaire, 
the meaning is sufficiently obvious ; it signifies 
Conary's lawn or meadow ; but who this Conary 
was we have no means of knowing (see O'Dono- 
van's Four Masters, Vol. I., p. 457). 

Ballymagowan is the name of some townlands 

CHAP, i.] How Meanings have been ascertained. 11 

in Donegal and Tyrone, and signifies Mac Gowan's 
town. But Ballymagowan near Derry is a very 
different name, as will appear by reference to some 
old authorities. In Sampson's map it is called 
Ballygowan, and in the Act 4 Anne, " Ballygan, 
alias Ballygowan :" while in an Inquisition taken 
at Derry, in 1605, it is designated by the English 
name Canons' land. From all this it is obviously 
the place mentioned in the following record in 
the Four Masters at 1537: "The son of 
O'Doherty was slain in a nocturnal assault by 
Rury, son of Felim O'Doherty, at Baile-na- 
gcananach [Ballynagananagh], in the Termon of 
Derry." This old Irish name signifies the town 
of the canons, a meaning preserved in the Inq. 
of 1605 ; while the intermediate forms between 
the ancient and the modern very corrupt name 
are given in Sampson and in the Act of Anne. 

In Adamnan's Life of St. Columba (Lib. ii., 
Cap. 43) it is related, that on one occasion, while 
the saint was in Ireland, he undertook a journey, 
in which " he had for his charioteer Columbanus, 
son of Echuid, a holy man, and founder of a mo- 
nastery, called in the Scotic tongue Snamh-Luthir." 
In the Life of St. Fechin, published by Colgan 
(Act. SS., p. 136 b.), we are informed that " the 
place which is called Snamh-Luthir is in the re- 
gion of Cairbre-Gabhra ;" and O'Donovan has 
shown that Carbery-Goura was a territory situ- 
ated in the north-east of Longford ; but the pre 
sent identification renders it evident that it 
extended northwards into Cavan. 

In an Inquisition taken at Cavan in 1609, the 
following places are mentioned as situated in the 
barony of Loughtee: "Trinitie Island scituate 
near the Toagher, . . . Clanlaskin, Derry, 
Bleyncupp, and Dromore, Snawlugher and Kille- 

Ix? The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

vallie" (Ulster Inq., App. vii.) ; Snawlugher 
being evidently the ancient Snamh-Luthir. We 
find these names existing at the present day in the 
parish of Kilmore, in this barony, near the town 
of Cavan, in the modern forms of Togher, Clon- 
loskan, Derries, Bleancup, Drutnmore, Killyvally, 
Trinity Island ; and there is another modern 
townland called Slanore, which, though more al- 
tered than the others, is certainly the same as 
Snawlugher. If this required further proof we 
have it in the fact, that in Petty's map Slanore 19 
called Snalore, which gives the intermediate step. 

Snamh-Luthir is very well represented in pro- 
nunciation by Snawlugher of the Inquisition. 
This was shortened by Petty to Snalore without 
much sacrifice of sound ; and this, by a metathesis 
common in Irish names, was altered to Slanore. 
Luthir is a man's name of frequent occurrence in 
our old MSS., and Snamh-Luthir signifies the 
swimming- ford of Luthir. This ingenious iden- 
tification is due to Dr. Reeves. (See Reeves's 
Adamnan, p. 173). 

V. Some of the early ecclesiastical and histo- 
rical writers, who used the Latin Language, very 
often when they had occasion to mention places, 
gave, instead of the native name, the Latin equiva- 
lent, or they gave the Irish name accompanied by 
a Latin translation. Instances of this kind are to 
be found in the pages of Adamnan, Bede, Gir- 
aldus Cambrensis, Colgan, O'Sullivan Bear, and 
others. Of all the sources of information ac- 
cessible to me, this, so far as it extends, is the 
most authentic and satisfactory ; and accordingly 
I have collected and recorded every example of 
importance that I could find. 

These men, besides being, many of them, pro- 
foundly skilled in the Irish language, and speaking 

CHAP, i.] How Meanings have been ascertained. 13 

it as their mother tongue, lived at a time when the 
local names of the country were well understood ; 
their interpretations are in almost all cases beyond 
dispute, and serve as a guide to students of the pre- 
sent day, not only in the very names they have 
translated, but in many others of similar structure, 
or formed from the same roots. How far this is 
the case will appear from the following examples. 

St. Columba erected a monastery at Durrow, in 
the King's County, about the year 509, and it con- 
tinued afterwards during his whole life one of his 
favourite places. The old Irish form of the name 
is Dairmag or Dearmagh, as we find it in Adam- 
nan : " A monastery, which in Scotic is called 
Dairmag ;" and for its interpretation we have also 
his authority ; for when he mentions it in lab. i., 
Cap. 29, he uses the Latin equivalent, calling it 
" Roboreti campus," the plain of the oaks. Bede 
also gives both the Irish name and the translation 
in the following passage : " Before he (Columba) 
passed over into Britain, he had built a noble 
monastery in Ireland, which, from the great numbei 
of oaks, is in the Scotic language called Dearmagh, 
the field of the oaks" (Lib. iii., Cap. 4). Dair, an 
oak ; magh, a plain. 

It is hardly necessary to remark that the name 
was in use ages before the time of St. Columba, 
who adopted it as he found it ; and it has been 
softened down to the present name by the aspira- 
tion of the consonants, Dearmhagh being pro- 
nounced Darwah, which gradually sunk to 

Durrov on the borders of the Queen's County 
and Kilkenny, has the same original form and 
meaning, for we find it so called in O'Clery's 
Calendar at the 20th of October, where St. Mael- 
dubh is mentioned as " from Dermagh iL HyDuach, 

14 The Irish Local Name System. [PART I. 

in the north of Ossory," which passage also shows 
that Durrow, though now included in the Queen's 
County, formerly belonged to the territory of 
Idough, in Kilkenny. 

There are several townlands in other parts of 
Ireland called Durrow, Durra, and Durha ; and 
although we have no written evidence of their 
ancient forms, yet, aided by the pronunciation of 
the peasantry, and guided by the analogy of Dur- 
row, we cannot hesitate to pronounce that they are 
all modern forms of Dearmhagh. 

We find the same term forming part of the name 
of Dunderrow, a village and parish in Cork, whose 
ancient name is preserved in the following entry 
from the Book of Leinster, a MS. of the 12th cen- 
tury, recording an event that occurred early in the 
ninth : " By them (i. e. the Danes) were demol- 
ished Dun-der-maigi and Inis-Eoganain' (Owenan's 
or Little Owen's island or river-holm, now Ini- 
shannon on the river Bandon : " "Wars of GGr.," p. 
233). Dunderrow signifies the fortress of the oak- 
plain, and the large dun from which it was called 
is still in existence in the townland of Dunderrow, 
half a mile south of the village. 

Drumhome in Donegal takes its name from an 
ancient church originally dedicated to St. Adam- 
nan (see O'Clery's Calendar at 23rd Sept). O'Clery 
and the Four Masters call it Druim-tuama, which 
seems to imply that they took it to mean the ridge 
of the tumulus. Adamnan himself, however, men- 
tions it in his life of St. Columba (Lib. iii. Cap. 
23) by the equivalent Latin name Dorsum Tommce ; 
and Colgan (A. SS. p. 9, n. 6) notices this, adding 
the words, " for the Irish druim signifies the same 
as the Latin dorsum." From which it appears 
evident that both Adamnan and Colgan regarded 
Tommae as a personal name ; for if it meant tumulus, 

CHAP, i.] HDIC Meanings have been ascertained. 15 

the former would, no doubt, have translated it as 
he did the first part, and the latter would be pretty 
sure to have a remark on it. The name, therefore, 
signifies the ridge or long hill of Tomma, a pagan 
woman's name ; and this is the sense in which 
Lynch, the author of Cambrensis Eversus, under- 
stands it (Camb. Evers. II. 686). 

About four miles from Bantry, on the road to 
Inchigeela, are the ruins of Carriganass castle, 
once a stronghold of the O'Sullivans. O'Sullivan 
Bear mentions it in his History of the Irish 
Catholics, and calls it Torrentirupcs, which is ai 
exact translation of the Irish name Carraig-an-easa, 
the rock of the cataract ; and it takes its name 
from a beautiful cascade, where the Ouvane falls 
over a ledge of rocks, near the castle. 

There is another place of the same name in the 
parish of Ardagh, near Youghal, and another still 
in the parish of Lackan, Mayo ; while, in Armagh 
and in Tyrone, it takes the form of Carrickaness 
all deriving their name from a rock in the bed of 
a stream, forming an eas or waterfall. 

VI. When the Irish original of a name is not 
known, it may often be discovered from an old form 
of the anglicised name. These early English forms 
are found in old documents of various kinds in the 
English or Latin language inquisitions, maps, 
charters, rolls, leases, &c., as well as in the pages 
of the early Anglo-Irish historical writers. The 
names found in these documents have been em- 
balmed in their pages, and preserved from that 
continual process of corruption to which modern 
names have been subjected ; such as they sprang 
from their Irish source they have remained, while 
many of the corresponding modern names have 
been altered in various ways. 

They were obviously, in many instances, taken 

16 The Irish Local Name Si/xtem. [PAKT i. 

down from the native pronunciation; and very 
often they transmit the original sound sufficiently 
near to suggest at once to an Irish scholar, prac- 
tised in these matters, the proper Irish form. Drs. 
O'Donovan and Reeves have made much use ol 
this method, and I have succeeded, by means of it, 
in recovering the Irish forms of many names. 

Ballybough, the name of a village near Dublin, 
is obscure as it stands ; but in an Inquisition of 
James I., it is called Ballybought, which at once 
suggests the true Irish name Baile-bocht, poor 
town ; and Ballybought, the correct anglicised 
form, is the name of some townlands in A.ntrim, 
Kildare, Cork, and Wexford. With the article 
intervening we have Ballinamought, the name of 
a hamlet near Cork city, and Ballynamought near 
Bantry in the same county, both meaning the town 
of the poor people : b eclipsed by m page 22. 

Cappancur near Geashill, King's County, is 
mentioned in an Inquisition of James I., and 
spelled Keapancurragh, which very fairly represents 
the pronunciation of the Irish Ceapach-an-chur- 
raigh, the tillage-plot of the currayh or marsh. 

There is a townland in the parish of Aghaboe, 
Queen's County, the name of which all modern au- 
thorities concur in calling Kilminfoyle. It is cer- 
tain, however, that the n in the middle syllable 
has been substituted for /, for it is spelled in the 
Down Survey map Killmullf oyle : this makes it 
perfectly clear, for it is a very good attempt to 
write the Irish Cill-Maolphoil, Mulfoyle's Church, 
Mulfoyle being a man's name of common occur- 
rence, signifying St. Paul's servant. 

It would be impossible to guess at the meaning 
of Ballyboughlin, the name of a place near Clara, 
King's County, as it now stands ; but here also 
the Down Survey opens the way to the original 

CHAP. ii. J Systematic Changes. 17 

name, by spelling it Bealaboclone, from which it is 
obvious that the Irish name is Beal-atha-bochluana^ 
the ford of the cow-meadow, the last part, bochluain, 
cow-meadow, being a very usual local designation. 



E are many interesting peculiarities in the 
process of altering Irish topographical names from 
ancient to modern English forms ; and the changes 
and corruptions they have undergone are, in nu 
merous instances, the result of phonetic laws that 
have been in operation from the earliest times, and 
among different races of people. Irish names, 
moreover, afford the only existing record of the 
changes that Irish words undergo in the mouths of 
English-speaking people; and, for these reasons, 
the subject appears to me to possess some import- 
ance, in both an antiquarian and a philological 
point of view. 

I. Irish Pronunciation preserved. In anglicising 
Irish names, the leading general rule is, that the 
present forms are derived from the ancient Irish, 
as they were spoken, not as they were written. 
Those who first committed them to writing aimed 
at preserving the original pronunciation, by re- 
presenting it as nearly as they were able in Eng- 
lish letters. Generally speaking, this principle 
explains the alterations that were made in the spell- 
ing of names in the process of reducing them 
from ancient to modern forms ; and, as in the Irish 
VOL. i. 3 

18 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

language there is much elision and softening oi 
consonants; as, consequently, the same sound 
usually take a greater number of letters to repre- 
sent them in Irish than in English ; and since, in 
addition to this, many of the delicate sounds of the 
Irish words were wholly omitted, as impossible tc 
be represented in English ; for all these reasons 
the modern English forms of the names are almost 
always shorter than the ancient Irish. 

Allowing for the difficulty of representing Irish 
words by English letters, it will be found that, on 
the whole, the ancient pronunciation is fairly pre- 
served. For example, Drummuck, the name of 
several places in Ulster, preserves almost exactly 
the sound of the Irish Druim-muc, the ridge of the 
pigs ; and the same may be said of Dungarvan, in 
Waterford and Kilkenny, the Irish form of which 
is Dun-Garbhain (Four Mast.), meaning Garvan's 
fortress. Not quite so well preserved, but still 
tolerably so, is the sound of Baile-d -riclire [Bally- 
ariddery], the town of the knight, which is now 
called Balrothery, near Dublin. In some excep- 
tional cases the attempts to represent the sound 
were very unsuccessful, of which Ballyagran, the 
name of a village in Limerick, may be cited as an 
example ; it ought to have been anglicised Bellaha- 
gran, the original form being Bel-atha-grean, the 
ford-mouth of the gravel. Cases of this kind 
are more common in Ulster and Leinster than in 
the other provinces. 

Whenever it so happens that the original com- 
bination of letters is pronounced nearly the same in 
Irish and English, the names are commonly 
modernised without much alteration either of spel- 
ling or pronunciation ; as for instance, dun, a fort, 
is usually anglicised dun or doon; bo, a cow, bo ; 
iruim, a long hill, drum; leitir, a wet hill- side, 

CHAP, it.] Systematic Changes. 19 

letter, &c. In most cases, however, the same letters 
do not represent the same sounds in the two lan- 
guages ; and, accordingly, while the pronunciation 
was preserved, the original orthography was in 
almost all cases much altered, and, as I have said, 
generally shortened. The contraction in the spell- 
ing is sometimes very striking, of which Lorum in 
Carlow affords a good illustration, the Irish name 
being Leamhdhruim [Lavrum], the drum or ridge 
of the elms. 

II. Aspiration. The most common causes of 
change in the reduction of Irish names are aspi- 
ration and eclipsis ; and of the effects of these 
two grammatical accidents, it will be necessary to 
give some explanation. 

'Donovan defines aspiration " The changing 
of the radical sounds of the consonants, from being 
stops of the breath to a sibilance, or from a 
stronger to a weaker sibilance ; so that the aspira- 
tion of a consonant results in a change of sound." 
There are nine of the consonants which, in certain 
situations, may be aspirated : b, c, d, f, g, m, p, s, 
and t. The aspiration is denoted either by placing 
a point over the letter (cj, or an h after it (ch) ; 
by this contrivance letters that are aspirated are 
still retained in writing, though their sounds are 
wholly altered. But as in anglicising names these 
aspirated sounds were expressed in English by 
the very letters that represented them, there was, 
of course, a change of letters. 

B and m aspirated (bh, mh\ are both sounded 
like v or w, and, consequently, where we find bh or 
mh in an Irish name, we generally have v or w in 
the English form : examples, Ardvally in Sligo and 
Donegal, from the Irish Ard-bhaik, high town ; 
Ballinvana in Limerick, Baik-an-bhana, the town 
of the green field; Ballinwully in Roscommon, 
Baile-an-mhullaigh, the town of the summit. 

20 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

Very often they are represented by / in Eng- 
lish, as we see in Cloondaff in Mayo, from Cluain- 
damh, ox-meadow ; Boherduff, the name of several 
townlands in various counties, Bdthar-dubh, black 
road. And not unfrequently they are altogether 
suppressed, especially in the end of words, or 
between two vowels, as in Knockdoo in Wicklow, 
the same as Kuockduff in other places, Cnoc-dubh, 
black hill ; Knockrour or Knockrower in the 
southern counties, which has been made Knock- 
ramer, in Armagh, all from Cnoc-reamhar, fat or 
thick hill. 

For c aspirated see next Chapter. 

D and <7 aspirated (dk, gh], have a faint guttural 
sound not existing in English ; it is something 
like the sound of y (in yore), which occasionally 
represents it in modern names, as in Annayalla in 
Monaghan, Eanaigh-gheala, the white marshes, so 
called, probably, from whitish grass or white bog 
flowers. But these letters, which even in Irish 
are, in some situations not sounded, are generally 
altogether unrepresented in English names, as in 
Lisnalee, a common local name in different parts 
of the country, which represents the Irish Lios- 
na-laegh, the fort of the calves, a name having its 
origin in the custom of penning calves at night 
within the enclosure of the lis ; Reanabrone near 
Limerick city, Reidh-na-bron, the marshy flat of 
the mill-stone or quern ; Ballintoy in Antrim, 
Baile-an-tuaidh, the town of the north. 

F aspirated (fh) totally loses its sound in Irish, 
and of course is omitted in English, as in Bauran- 
eag in Limerick, Barr-an-fhiaigh, the hill-top of 
the deer; Knockanree in Wicklow, Cnoc-an- 
fhraeigh, the hill of the heath. 

P aspirated (ph], is represented by /, as in 
Ballinfoyle, the name of a place in "Wicklow, and 

CHAP. ii. J Systematic Changes. 21 

of another near Galway, Baile-an-phoill, the town 
of the hole; Shanlongford in Deny, Sean-longphort, 
the old longfort or fortification. 

-S and t aspirated (sA, th), both sound the same 
as English h, as in Drumhillagh, a townland name 
of frequent occurrence in some of the Ulster 
counties, Druim-shaileach, the ridge of the sallows, 
which often also takes the formDrumsillagh, where 
the original sound is retained; Drumhuskert 
in Mayo, Druimthuaisceart, northern drum or ridge. 

III. Eclipsis. O'Donovan defines eclipsis, 
" The suppression of the sounds of certain radical 
consonants by prefixing others of the same organ." 
When one letter is eclipsed by another, both are 
retained in writing, but the sound of the eclipsing 
letter only is heard, that of the eclipsed letter, 
which is the letter proper to the word, being 
suppressed. For instance, when d is eclipsed by 
n it is written n-d, but the n alone is pronounced. 
In representing names by English letters, however, 
the sound only was transmitted, and, consequently 
the eclipsed letter was wholly omitted in writing, 
which, as in case of aspiration, resulted in a 
change of letter. 

"All initial consonants that admit of eclipsis 
are eclipsed in all nouns in the genitive case 
plural, when the article is expressed, and some- 
times even in the absence of the article " (O'Dono- 
van's Grammar). S is eclipsed also, under similar 
circumstances, in the genitive singular. Although 
there are several other conditions under which con- 
sonants are eclipsed, this, with very few excep- 
tions, is the only case that occurs in local names. 

The consonants that are eclipsed are b, c, d,f, 
g, p, s, t, and each has a special eclipsing letter 
of its own. 

B is eclipsed by m. Lugnamuddagh near Boyle, 

22 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

Hoscommon, represents the Irish Lug-na-mbodach, 
the hollow of the bodaghs or churls ; Knocknamoe 
near Abbeyleix, Queen's County, Cnoc-na-mbo, 
the hill of the cows ; Mullaghnamoyagh in Derry, 
Mullach-na-mboitheach, the hill of the byres, or 

C is eclipsed by g. Knocknagulliagh, Antrim, 
is reduced from the Irish Cnoe-na-gcoilleach, the 
hill of the cocks or grouse ; Cloonagashel near 
Ballinrobe, ought to have been anglicised Coolna- 
gashel, for the Four Masters write the name Cuil- 
na-(jcaiseal, the angle of the cashels or stone forts. 

7) and g are both eclipsed by n. Killynamph, 
in the parish of Aghalurcher, Fermanagh, Coitt- 
na-ndamh, the wood of the oxen ; Mullananallog in 
Monaghan, Mu^ach-na-ndealg, the summit of the 
thorns or thorn-bushes. The eclipsis of g very 
seldom causes a change, for in this case the n and 
g coalesce in sound in the Irish, and the g is 
commonly retained and the n rejected in the 
English forms ; as, for instance, Cnoc-na-ngabhar 
[Knock-nung-our], the hill of the goats, is angli- 
cised Knocknagore in Sligo and Down, and Knock- 
nagower in Kerry. 

F is eclipsed by bh which is represented by v 
in English. Carrignavar, one of the seats of the 
Mac Carthys in Cork, is in Irish Carraig-na-bhfear, 
the rock of the men ; Altnaveagh in Tyrone and 
Armagh, Alt-na-bhfiach, the cliff of the ravens; 
Lisnaviddoge near Templemore, Tipperary, Lios- 
na-bhfeadog, the lis or fort of the plovers. 

P is eclipsed by b. Gortnaboul in Kerry and 
Clare, Gort-na-bpoll> the field of the holes : Cor- 
nabaste in Cavan, Cor-na-bpiast, the round-hill of 
the worms or enchanted serpents. 

8 is eclipsed by t, but this occurs only in the 
genitive singular, with the article, and sometimes 

CHAP. ii. j Systematic Changes. 23 

without it. Ballintaggart, the name of several 
places in various counties from Down to Kerry, 
represents the Irish Baile-an-tsagairt, the town of 
the priest, the same name as Ballysaggart, which 
retains the s, as the article is not used ; Knock- 
atancashlane near Caherconlish, Limerick, Cnoc- 
a'-tsean-chaisledin, the hill of the old castle ; Kil- 
tenanlea in Clare, Cill-tSenain-leith, the church of 
Senan the hoary ; Kiltenan in Limerick, Cill- 
tSenain, Senan' s church. 

T is eclipsed by d. Ballynadolly in Antrim 
Baile-na-dtulach, the town of the little hills ; Gort- 
nadullagh near Kenmare, Gort-na-dtulach, the 
field of the hills ; Lisnadurk in Fermanagh, Lios- 
na-dtorc, the fort of the boars. 

IY. Effects of the Article. The next series of 
changes I shall notice are those produced under 
the influence of the article. Names were occa- 
sionally formed by prefixing the Irish definite 
article an to nouns, as in the case of Anveyerg 
in the parish of Aghnamullan, Monaghan, which 
represents thelrish An-bheith-dkearg,ihe red birch- 
tree. When the article was in this manner placed 
before a word beginning with a vowel, it was 
frequently contracted to n alone, and this n was 
often incorporated with its noun, losing ultimately 
its force as an article, and forming permanently a 
part of the word. The attraction of the article is 
common in other languages also, as for instance 
in French, which has the words Ihierre, lendemain, 
luette, Lisle, Lami, and many others, formed by 
the incorporation of the article /. 

A considerable number of Irish names have 
incorporated the article in this manner ; among 
others, the following : Naul, the name of a village 
near Balbriggan. The Irish name is an dill, i. e. the 
rock or cliff, which was originally applied to the 

24 The Irish Local Name System. [PART. i. 

perpendicular rock on which the castle stands 
rising over the little river Delvin near the village. 
The word was shortened to naill, and it has de- 
scended to us in the present form Naul, which 
very nearly represents the pronunciation. 

The parish of Neddans in Tipperary, is called 
in Irish na feadain, the brooks or streamlets, and 
it took its name from a townland which is now 
often called Fearann-na-bhfeadan, the land of the 
streamlets. Ninch in Meath, the inch or island. 
Naan island in Lough Erne, the ain or ring, so 
called from its shape; Nart in Monaghan, an 
fheart, the grave. 

Nuenna river in the parish of Freshford, Kil- 
kenny an uaithne [an oohina], the green river. 
The river Nore is properly written an Fheoir, i. e. 
the Feoir ; Boate calls it " The Nure or Oure," 
showing that in his time (1645) the article had 
not been permanently incorporated. Nobber in 
Meath; the obair or work, a name applied ac- 
cording to tradition, to the English fortress 
erected there. Mageognegan, in his translation 
of the " Annals of Clonmacnoise," calls it " the 

It is curious that in several of these places a 
traditional remembrance of the use of the article 
still exists, for the people often employ the 
English article with the names. Thus Naul is 
still always called " The Naul," by the inhabi- 
tants : in this both the Irish and English articles 
are used together ; but in " The Oil " (the aill or 
rock), a townland in the parish of Edermine, 
Wexford, the Irish article is omitted, and the 
English used in its place. 

While in so many names the article has been 
incorporated, the reverse process sometimes took 
place ; that is, in the case of certain words which 

CHAP, ii.] Systematic Changes. " 25 

properly began with n, this letter was detached in 
consequence of being mistaken for the article. 
The name tfacAow##/m7[Oohongwal], is an example 
of this. The word Congbhail means a habitation, 
but it was very often applied to an ecclesiastical 
establishment, and it has been perpetuated in the 
names of Conwal, a parish in Donegal ; Conwal in 
the parish of Rossinver, Leitrim ; Cunnagavale* 
in the parish of Tuogh, Limerick ; and other places. 
With nua (new) prefixed, it became Nuachong- 
bhail, which also exists in several parts of Ireland, 
in the forms of Noughaval and Nohoval. This 
word is often found without the initial n, it being 
supposed that the proper word was Uachongbhaii 
and n merely the article. In this mutilated state 
it exists in the modern names of several places, viz. : 
Oughaval in the parish of Kilmacteige, Sligo ; the 
parish of Oughaval in Mayo ; and Oughaval in the 
parish of Stradbally, Queen's County ; which last 
is called by its correct name Nuachongbhail, in 
O'Clery's Calendar at the 15th May. This is also 
the original name of Faughanvale in Derry, which 
is written Uachongbhaii by the Four Masters. This 

* This place is called Cunnaghabhail in Irish by the people, 
and it is worthy of notice, as it points directly to what appears 
to be the true origin of Congbhail, viz., congabhaU. 1 am 
aware that in O'Clery's Glossary, Congbhail is derived from 
combhaile (con + baile). But in a passage in the " Book of 
Armagh," as quoted by Dr. W. Stokes in his Irish Glosses, I 
find the word congabaim used in the sense of habito ; and 
O'Donovan states that congeb = he holds (Sup. to O'R. Diet.). 
The infinitive or verbal noun formation is congabail or con- 
gabhail, which, according to this use, means habitatio; and as 
Colgan translates Congbhail by the same word habitatio, there 
can be, I think, no doubt that congbhail is merely a contracted 
form of congabhaU. CongabhaU literally means conceptio, i.e. 
comprehending or including ; and as applied to a habitation, 
would mean the whole of the premises included in the establish 

26 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

old name was corrupted to Faughanvale by peo- 
ple who, I suppose, were thinking of the river 
Faughan ; which, however, is three miles off, and 
had nothing whatever to do with the original name 
of the place. 

The word Uachongbhail has a respectable anti- 
quity in its favour, for "The Book of Uachong- 
bhail" is mentioned in several old authorities, among 
others the Book of Ballymote, and the Yellow 
Book of Lecan ; the name occurs also in the Four 
Masters at 1197. Yet there can be no doubt that 
Nuachongbhail is the original word, for we have 
the express authority of Colgan that nua not ua is 
the prefix, as he translates Nuachongbhail by nova 
liabitatio ; indeed ua as a prefix could, in this case, 
have scarcely any meaning, for it never signifies 
anything but " a descendant." 

The separation of the n may be witnessed in 
operation at the present day in Kerry, where the 
parish of Nohoval is locally called in Irish some- 
times Uachobhail and sometimes an Uachobhail, the 
n being actually detached and turned into the 
article. (See O'Donovan's Letter on this parish.) 
That the letter n may have been lost in this man- 
aer appears also to be the opinion of Dr. Graves, 
for in a paper read before the R. I. Academy in 
December, 1852, he remarks that the loss of the 
initial n in the words oidhche (night) and uirnhir 
(a number) " may perhaps be accounted for, by 
supposing that it was confounded with the n of the 

The words eascu (or easgan), an eel, and eas (or 
easog), a weasel, have, in like manner, lost the 
initial n, for the old forms, as given in Cormac's 
Glossary, are naiscu and ness. Dr. Whitley Stokes, 
also, in his recent edition of this Glossary, directs 
attention to the Breton Ormandi for Normandy, 

CHAP, ii.] (Systematic Changes. 27 

and to the English adder as compared with the 
Irish nathir (a snake) and Lat. natrix; but in these 
two last examples it is probahle that the article 
has nothing to do with the loss of the n. 

As a further confirmation of this opinion regard- 
ing the loss of n in Uachongbhail, I may state that 
the letter / is sometimes lost in French and Italian 
words from the very same cause ; as in Fr. once 
(Eng. ounce, an animal), from Lat. lynx; it was 
formerly written lonce, and in the It. lonza, the / is 
still retained. Fr. azur (Eng. azure), from lazulus. 
So also It. uscigmiolo, the nightingale, from Im- 
cinia ; and It. orbacca, a berry, from laun-bacca. 

Even in English there are some cases both of 
the loss and of the accession of the article : "an 
eft" has been made " newt ;" and the reverse pro- 
cess is seen in the word " adder," which has been 
corrupted from " nadder." There seems a ten- 
dency to prefix n (whether the article or not), as 
in Nell for Ellen, Ned for Edward, &c. At one 
time " tother" was very near being perpetuated for 
'' the other" " The creature's neither one nor 

Another change that has been, perhaps, chiefly 
produced by the influence of the article, is the 
omission or insertion of the letter/. The article 
causes the initial consonants of feminine nouns 
(and in certain cases those of masculine nouns 
also) to be aspirated. Now aspirated / is wholly 
silent ; and being omitted in pronunciation, it 
was, in the same circumstances, often omitted in 
writing. The Irish name of the river Nore affords 
an instance of this. Keating and O'Heeren write 
it Feoir, which is sounded Eoir when the article is 
prefixed (an Fheoir). Accordingly, it is written 
without the / quite as often as with it ; the Four 
Masters mention it three times, and each time 

28 The Irish Local Name System. [PA-RT i. 

they call it Eoir. The total silence of this lettei 
in aspiration appears to be, to some extent at 
least, the cause of its uncertain character. In the 
case of many words, the writers of Irish seem 
either to have inserted or omitted it indifferently, 
or to have been uncertain whether it should be 
inserted or not ; and so we often find it omitted, 
even in very old authorities, from words where it 
was really radical, and prefixed to other words to 
which it did not belong. The insertion of /is very 
common in the south of Ireland. (See O'Donovan's 
Gram., p. 30, and O'Brien's Irish Diet., p. 446.) 

The following words will exemplify these 
remarks : from dill, a rock or cliff, we have a great 
number of names such as Aillenaveagh in Gal- 
way, Aill-na-bhfiach, the raven's cliff, &c. But it 
is quite as often called faill, especially in the 
south ; and this form gives us many names, such 
as Foilduff in Kerry and Tipperary, black cliff ; 
Foylatalure in Kilkenny, the tailor's cliff. Aill I 
believe to be the most ancient form of this word, 
for Aill-finn (Elphin) occurs in the Tripartite 
Life of St. Patrick. So with uar and fuar, cold ; 
and Fahan on Lough Swilly, is sometimes written 
Fathain, and sometimes Athain, and Othain, by 
the Four Masters. 

The /has been omitted by aspiration in the 
names Lughinny in the parish of Killahy, Kil- 
kenny, and in Lughanagh in the parish of 
Killosolan, Galway, both of which represent the 
Irish an fhliuchaine [an luhiny], the wet land; 
and also in Ahabeg, in the parish of Carrigparson, 
Limerick, anfhaithche beag, the little green. In 
these names, the article, after having caused the 
aspiration of the/, has itself dropped out ; but it 
has held its place in Nurchossy near Clogher in 
Tyrone, the Irish name of which is an fliuar- 

CHAP, ii.] Systematic Changes. 29 

chosach, the cold foot or cold bottom-land, $o called 
probably from its wetness. A place of this name 
Fuarchosach) is mentioned by the Four Masters 
at 1584, but it lies in Donegal : there is a little 
island in Lough Corrib, two miles and a half 
north-east from Oughterard, with the strange 
name of Cussafoor, which literally signifies " cold 
feet ; " and Derreenagusfoor is the name of a town- 
land in the parish of Kilcummin in Galway, 
signifying the little oak-wood of the cold feet. 

The /has been affixed to the following words to 
which it does not radically belong : fan for an, stay ; 
fiolar for iolar, an eagle ; fainne for ainne, a ring, 
&c. It has also been inserted in Culfeightrin, the 
name of a parish in Antrim, which is properly 
Cuil-eachtrann, the corner or angle of the strangers. 
Urney in Tyrone is often called Furny, as in the 
record of Primate Colton's Visitation (1397), and 
the / is also prefixed in the Taxation of Down, 
Connor, and Dromore (1306), both showing that 
the corruption is not of recent origin. 

I must notice yet another change produced by 
the article. When it is prefixed to a masculine 
noun commencing with a vowel, a t should be in- 
serted between it and the noun, as anam, soul, an 
tanam, the soul.* In the case of a few names, this 
t has remained, and has become incorporated with 
the word, while the article has disappeared. For 
example, Turagh in the parish of Tuogh, Limerick, 
i. e. an t-iubhrach, the yew land ; Tummery in the 
parish of Dromore, Tyrone, an t-iomaire, the ridge ; 
so also Tassan in Monaghan, the assan or little 
cataract , Tardree in Antrim, an tard-fhraeigh, the 
height of the heather. The best known example 

* This t is really a part of the article ; but the way in 
which I have stated the case will be more familiar to readers 
of modern Irish. 

30 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

of this is Tempo in Fermanagh, which is called in 
Irish an t-Iompodh deisiol [antimpo deshil], iompodh 
meaning turning, and deisiol, dcxtrosum from left 
to right. The place received its name, no doubt, 
from the ancient custom of turning sun-ways, i. e. 
from left to right in worship. (See deas, in 2nd 
Volume. ) 

V. Provincial Differences of Pronunciation. 
There are certain Irish words and classes of words, 
which by the Irish-speaking people are pro- 
nounced differently in different parts of the 
country ; and, in accordance with the general rule 
to preserve as nearly as possible the original pro- 
nunciation, these provincial peculiarities, as might 
be anticipated, are reflected in the modern names. 
This principle is very general, and large numbers 
of names are affected by it ; but I shall notice 
only a few of the most prominent cases. 

In the southern half of Ireland, the Irish letters 
a and o are sounded in certain situations like ou 
in the English word ounce* Gabhar, a goat, is 
pronounced gowr in the south, and gore in the 
north ; and so the name Lios-na-ngabhar (Four 
Mast. : the lis or fort of the goats) is anglicised 
Lisnagower in Tipperary, and Lisnagore in Mo- 
naghan. See also Ballynahown, a common town- 
land name in the south (Baik-na-habhann, the 
town of the river), contrasts with Ballynahone, 
an equally common name in the north. Fionn 
(white or fair), is pronounced feoun or fiune in 
Minister, as in Bawnfoun in Waterford, and 
Bawnfune in Cork, the white or fair-coloured 
field. In most other parts of Ireland it is pro- 
nounced fin, as in Findrum in Donegal and 
Tyrone, which is written by the Four Masters 

* For this and the succeeding provincial peculiarities see 
O'Donovan's Grammar, Part I., Chaps, i. and IL 

CHAP. ii. J Systematic Changes. 31 

Findmim, white or fair ridge ; and this form is 
often adopted in Munster also, as in Finnahy in 
the parish of Upperchurch, Tipperary, Fionn- 
fhaithche, the white plat or exercise-field. 

The sound of b aspirated (bh = v) is often sunk 
altogether in Munster, while it is very generally 
retained in the other provinces, especially in 
Connaught. In Derrynanool in the parish of 
Marshalstown, Cork (Doire-na-nabhall, the grove 
of the apples), the bh is not heard, while it is 
fully sounded in Avalbane in the parish of Clon- 
tibret, Monaghan (Abhall-bdn, white orchard), 
and in Killavil in the parish of Kilshalvy, Sligo 
(Cill-abhaill, the church of the apple-tree). 

In certain positions adh is sounded like Eng. 
eye, in the south ; thus clad/i, which generally 
means a raised dyke of clay, but sometimes a sunk 
ditch or fosse, is pronounced cly in the south, as 
in Cly duff in Cork, Limerick, and King's County, 
black dyke. More northerly the same word is 
made da or claw ; as in Clawdowen near Clones, 
deep ditch ; Clawinch, an island in Lough Ree, 
the island of the dyke or mound. 

Adh in the termination of words is generally 
sounded like oo in Connaught; thus madadh, a 
dog, is anglicised maddoo in Carrownamaddoo, the 
quarterland of the dogs, the name of three town- 
lands in Sligo, while the same name is made 
Carrownamaddy in Roscommon and Donegal. 

One of the most distinctly marked provincial 
peculiarities, so far as names are concerned, is the 
pronunciation that prevails in Munster of the 
final gh, which is sounded there like English hard 
g in. Jig. Great numbers of local names are in- 
fluenced by this custom. Ballincollig near Cork 
is Bailc-an-chullaigh, the town of the boar ; and 
Ballintannig in the parish of Ballinaboy, Cork, 

32 The Irish Local Name System. [PART. 1. 

Baik-an-t-seanaigh, the town of the fox. The 
present name of the river Maigue in Limerick is 
formed on the same principle, its Irish name, as 
written in old authorities, being Maigh, that is 
the river of the plain. Nearly all the Munster 
names ending in g hard are illustrations of this 
peculiar pronunciation. 

It is owing to a difference in the way of pro- 
nouncing the original Irish words, that cluain (an 
insulated bog meadow) is sometimes in modern 
names made cloon, sometimes don, and occasionally 
clone; that dun (a fortified residence) is in one 
place spelt doon, in another dun, and in a third 
down ; that in the neighbourhood of Dublin, bally 
is shortened to bal; in Donegal rath is often made 
rye or ray; and that disert is sometimes made ister 
and tristle, &c. &c. 

VI. Irish Names with English Plurals. It is 
very well known that topographical names are 
often in the plural number, and this is found to 
be the case in the nomenclature of all countries. 
Sometimes in transferring foreign names of this 
kind into English, the original plurals are re- 
tained, but much oftener they are rejected, and 
replaced by English plurals, as in the well-known 
examples, Thebes and Athens. 

Great numbers of Irish topographical names 
are in like manner plural in the originals. Very 
frequently these plural forms have arisen from 
the incorporation of two or more denominations 
into one. For example, the townland of Rawes in 
the parish of Tynan, Armagh, was originally two, 
which are called in the map of the escheated 
estates (1609) Banragh and Douragh (Ban-rath, 
and Dubh-rath, white rath and black rath) ; but 
they were afterwards formed into a single town- 
land, which is now called Rawes, that is Raths. 

CHAP, ii.] Systematic Changes. 33 

There is a considerable diversity in the manner 
of anglicising these plural forms. Very often 
the original terminations are retained ; as in 
Milleeny in the parish of Ballyvourney, Cork, 
Millinidhe, little hillocks, from meall, a hillock. 
Oftener still, the primary plural inflection is re- 
jected, and its place supplied by the English 
termination. Keeloges is the name of about 
twenty- six townlands scattered all over Ireland ; 
it means " narrow stripes or plots," and the Irish 
name is Caeloga, the plural of caelog. Carrigans 
is a common name in the North, and Carrigeens 
in the South; it is the anglicised form of Car- 
raiginidhe, little rocks. Daars, a townland in the 
parish of Bodenstown, Kildare, means "oaks," 
from dairghe, plural of dair, an oak. So Mullans 
and Mullauns, from muttdin, little flat hills ; Der- 
reens, from doirmidhe, little derries or oak-groves 
Bawnoges, from bdnoga. little green fields, &c. 

In other names, the Irish plural form is wholly 
or partly retained, while the English termination 
is superadded ; and these double plurals are very 
common. Killybegs, the name of a village in 
Donegal, and of several other places in different 
parts of Ireland, is called by the Four Masters, 
Cealla-beaga, little churches. The plural of cluain 
(an insulated meadow) is cluainte, which is angli- 
cised Cloonty, a common townland name. With 
s added it becomes Cloonties, the name of some 
townlands, and of a well-known district near 
Strokestown, Roscommon, which is called Cloon- 
ties, because it consists of twenty-four townlands, 
all whose names begin with Cloon. 

VII. Transmission of Oblique Forms. In the 

transmission of words from ancient into modern 

European languages, there is a curious principle 

very extensive in its operation, which it will be 

VOL. i. 4 

34 The Irish Local Name System [PART i. 

necessary to notice briefly. When the genitive 
case singular of the ancient word differed mate- 
rially from the nominative, when, for instance, it 
was formed by the addition of one or more con- 
sonants, the modern wcrd was very frequently 
derived, not from the nominative, but from one of 
the oblique forms commonly the dative. 

All English words ending in ation are examples 
of this, such as nation : the original Latin is natw, 
gen. nationis, abl. natione, and the English has 
preserved the n of the oblique cases. Lat. pars, 
gen. partis, &c. ; here again the English word 
part retains the t of the genitive. 

This principle has been actively at work in the 
reduction of names from Irish to modern English 
forms. There is a class of nouns, belonging to 
the fifth declension in Irish, which form their 
genitive by adding n or nn to the nominative, as 
itrsa, a door jamb, genitive ursan, dative ursain; 
and this n is obviously cognate with the n of the 
third declension in Latin. 

Irish names that are declined in this manner 
very often retain the n of the oblique cases in 
their modern English forms. For example, Car- 
hooii, the name of a place in the parish of Kil- 
brogan, Cork, and of two others in the parishes of 
Beagh and Tynagh, Galway, is the genitive or 
iative of Carhoo, a quarter of land: Irish 
ceathramha, gen. ceathramhan. In this manner, 
we get the modern forms, Erin, Alban, Rathlin, 
from Eire, Alba (Scotland), Reachra. 

Other forms of the genitive, besides those of 
the fifth declension, are also transmitted. Even 
within the domain of the Irish language, the 
same tendency may be observed, in the changes 
from ancient to modern forms ; and we find this 
very often the case in nouns ending in ach, and 

CHAP, ii.] Systematic Changes. 35 

which make the gen. in aigh. Tulach, a hill, for 
instance, is tulaigh in the genitive; this is now 
very often used as a nominative, not only by 
speakers, but even by writers of authority, and most 
local names beginning with Tully are derived 
from it ; such as Tully alien on the Boyne, above 
Drogheda, which is most truly described by its 
Irish name Tulaigh- dlainn, beautiful hill. 

The genitive of teach, a house, is tighe, dative 
tigh, and at the present day this last is the uni- 
versal name for a house all over the south of 
Ireland. Many modern names beginning with Ti 
and Tee are examples of this ; for, although the 
correct form teach is usually given in the Annals, 
the modern names are derived, not from this, but 
from tigh, as the people speak it. 

There is an old church in King's County, which 
has given name to a parish, and which is called 
in the Calendars, Teach-Sarain, Saran's house. 
St. Saran, the original founder of the church, was 
of the race of the Dealbhna, who were descended 
from Olioll Olum, King of Munster (O'Clery's 
Cal. 20th Jan.) ; and his holy well, Tobar-Sarain, 
is still in existence near the church. The people 
call the church in Irish, Tigh-Sarain, and it is 
from this that the present name Tisaran is de- 

VIII. Translated Names. "Whoever examines 
the Index list of townlands will perceive, that 
while a great preponderance of the names are ob- 
viously Irish, a very considerable number are plain 
English words. These English names are of three 
classes, viz., really modern English names, imposed 
by English-speaking people, such as Kingstown, 
Castleblakeney, Charleville ; those which are 
translations of older Irish names ; and a third 
class to which I shall presently return. With 

36 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

the first kind pure modern English names I 
have nothing to do; I shall only remark that 
they are much less numerous than might be at 
first supposed. 

A large proportion of those townland names 
that have an English form, are translations, and 
of these I shall give a few examples. The Irish 
name of Cloverhill in the parish of Kilmacowen, 
Sligo, is Cnoc-na-seamar, the hill of the shamrocks ; 
Skinstown in the parish of Rathbeagh, Kilkenny, 
is a translation of Baile-na-gcroiceann ; and Nutfield, 
in the parish of Aghavea, Fermanagh, is correctly 
translated from the older name of Aghnagrow. 

Among this class of names, there are not a few 
whose meanings have been incorrectly rendered ; 
and such false translations are generally the re- 
sult of confounding Irish words, which are nearly 
alike in sound, but different in meaning. Fresh- 
ford in Kilkenny should have been called Fresh- 
field ; for its Irish name is Achad-ur (Book of 
Leinster), which, in the Life of St. Pulcherius 
published by Colgan, is explained, "Achadh-ur, 
i. e. green or soft field, on account of the moisture 
of the rivulets which flow there." The present 
translation was adopted because achadh, a field, 
was mistaken for ath, a ford. The Irish name of 
Strokestown in Roscommon, is not Baik-na- 
mbuille, as the present incorrect name would imply, 
but Bel-atha-na-mbuille, the ford (not the town) of 
the strokes or blows. In Castleventry, the name of 
a parish in Cork, there is a strange attempt at pre- 
serving the original signification. Its Irish name 
is Caislean-na-gaiet/ie, the castle of the wind, which 
has been made Castleventry, as if ventry had some 
connection in meaning with ventus. 

In the parish of Red City, in Tipperary, there 
formerly stood, near the old church, an ancient 

CHAP, ii.] Systematic Changes. 37 

caher or fort, built of red sandstone, and called 
from this circumstance, Caherderg, or red fort. 
But as the word caher is often used to signify a 
city, and as its application to the fort was for- 
gotten, the name came to be translated Red City, 
which ultimately extended to the parish. 

In some of the eastern counties, and especially 
in Meath, great numbers of names end in the 
word town ; and those derived from families are 
almost always translated so as to preserve this 
termination, as Drakestown, Gernonstown, Cruice- 
town, &c. But several names are anglicised very 
strangely, and some barbarously, in order to force 
them into compliance with this custom. Thus 
the Irish name of Mooretown, in the parish of 
Ardcath, is Baile-an-churraigh, the town of the 
moor or marsh ; Crannaghtown in the parish of 
Balrathboyne, is in Irish Baile-na-gcrannach, the 
town of the trees. There is a place in the parish 
of Martry, called Phosnixtown, but which in an 
Inquisition of James I. is written Phenockstown ; 
its Irish name is Baile- na-bhfionnog [Ballyna- 
vinnog], the town of the scaldcrows, and by a 
strange caprice of error, a scaldcrow or finnoge is 
here converted into a phoenix ! 

Many names, again, of the present class, are 
only half translations, one part of the word being 
not translated, but merely transferred. The 
reason of this probably was, either that the un- 
changed Irish part was in such common use as a 
topographical term, as to be in itself sufficiently 
understood or that the translators were ignorant 
of its English equivalent. In the parish of Bally- 
carney, Wexford, there is a townland taking its 
name from .a ford, called in Irish Sgairbh-an- 
Bhreathnaigh [Scarriff-an-vranny], Walsh's scariff, 
or shallow ford, and this with an obvious altera- 

38 The Irish Local Name System. [PART I. 

tion, has given name to the barony of Scarawalsh. 
In Cargygray, in the parish of Annahilt, county 
of Down, gray is a translation of riabhacha and 
cargy is the Irish for rocks; the full name is 
Cairrge-riabhacha, grey rocks. The Irish name 
of Curraghbridge, near Adair in Limerick, is 
Droichet-na-corra, the bridge of the weir or dam, 
and it is anglicised by leaving corra nearly un- 
changed, and translating droichet to bridge. I 
shall elsewhere treat of the term Eochaill (yew 
wood) and its modern forms : there is a townland 
near Tullamore, King's County, with this Irish 
name, but now somewhat oddly called the Wood of 
0. In some modern authorities, the place is 
called The Owe ; so that while chaill was correctly 
translated wood, it is obvious that the first syllable, 
co (yew), was a puzzle, and was prudently left 

IX. Irish Names simulating English Forms. 
The non-Irish names of the third class, already 
alluded to, are in some respects more interesting 
than those belonging to either of the other two. 
They are apparently English, but in reality Irish; 
and they have settled down in their present forms, 
under the action of a certain corrupting influence, 
which often comes into operation when words are 
transferred (not translated) from one language 
into another. It is the tendency to convert the 
strange word, which is etymologically unintelli- 
gible to the mass of those beginning to use it, 
into another that they can understand, formed by 
a combination of their own words, more or less 
like the original in sound, but almost always 
totally different in sense. This principle exists 
and acts extensively in the English language, and 
it has been noticed by several writers among 
others by Latham, Dr. Trench, and Max Muller, 

CHAP, ii.] Systematic Cnanges.- 39 

the last of whom devotes an entire lecture to it 
under the name of " Popular Etymology." These 
writers explain by it the formation of numerous 
English words and phrases ; and in their writings 
may be found many amusing examples, a few of 
which I shall quote. 

The word " beefeater " is corrupted from buff- 
etier, which was applied to a certain class of 
persons, so called, not from eating beef, but be- 
cause their office was to wait at the buffet. Shot- 
over Hill, near Oxford, a name which the people 
sometimes explain by a story of Little John 
shooting an arrow over it, is merely the French 
Chateau Vert. The tavern sign of "The goat 
and compasses " is a corruption of the older sign- 
board, "God encompasseth us;" "The cat and 
the wheel" is "St. Catherine's wheel;" Brazenose 
College, Oxford, was originally called Brazenhuis, 
i. e. brew-house, because it was a brewery before 
the foundation of the college ; " La rose des 
quatre saisons " becomes " The rose of the quarter 
sessions ; " and Bellerophon is changed to " Billy 
ruffian," &c., &c. 

This principle has been extensively at work in 
corrupting Irish names, much more so indeed 
than anyone who has not examined the subject 
can imagine ; and it will be instructive to give 
some characteristic instances. 

The best anglicised form of coill, a wood, is kill 
or kyle ; in many names, however, chiefly in the 
north of Ireland, it is changed to the English 
word field. Cranfield, the name of three town- 
lauds in Down, Antrim, and Tyrone, is in Irish 
creamhchoill [cravwhill], i. e. wild garlick-wood. 
Leamhchoill [lavwhill], a very usual name, mean- 
ing "elm-wood," is generally transformed into 
the complete English word Longfield, which forms 

40 The Irish Local Name System. [PART I. 

the whole or part of a great many townland 
names. The conversion of choill into field seems a 
strange transformation, but every step in the 
process is accounted for by principles examined in 
this and next chapter, namely, the conversion of 
ch into f, the addition of d after /, and the tend- 
ency at present under consideration, namely, the 
alteration of the Irish into an English word. 
There are many townland names in the South, 
as well as in the North, in which the same word 
coill is made hill. Who could doubt but that 
Coolhill in the parish of the Rower, Kilkenny, 
means the cool or cold hill ; or that Boy -hill in the 
parish of Aghavea, Fermanagh, is the hill of the 
boys ? But the first is really cukhoill [coolhilll, 
backwood, and the second buidhechoill [bwee-hill], 
yellow- wood. So also Scaryhill in Antrim, rocky- 
wood ; Cullahill in Tipperary, and Queen's County, 
hazel-wood ; and many others. 

Mointedn [moan-thaun], boggy land, and Moin- 
tin [moantheen], a little bog, are in the South 
very generally anglicised mountain, as in Ballyna- 
mountain, Kilmountain, Coolmountain, &c., all 
townland names ; and in both North and South, 
uachtar, upper, is frequently changed to water, as 
in Ballywater in Wexford, upper town ; Bally- 
watermoy in Antrim, the town of the upper plain ; 
Kilwatermoy in Waterford, the church of the 
upper plain. Braighid, a gorge, is made broad, as 
in Knockbroad in Wexford, the hill of the gorge ; 
and the genitive case of conadh, firewood, appears 
as honey, as in Magherahoney in Antrim, the field 
of the firewood. 

Many of these transformations are very ludic- 
rous, and were probably made under the influence 
of a playful humour, aided by a little imagination. 
There is a parish in Antrim called Billy ; a town- 

CHAP, ii.] Systematic Changes. 41 

land in the parish of Kinawly, Fermanagh, called 
Molly ; and another, in the parish of Ballinlough, 
Limerick, with the more ambitious name of 
Cromwell ; but all these sail under false colours, 
for the first is bile [bille], an ancient tree; the 
second mdlaighe [mauly] , hill-brows, or braes ; 
and Cromwell is nothing more than crom-choill 
[crumwhill], stooped (crom) or sloping- wood. The 
pointed little hill over the Ballycorus lead mines, 
near Enniskerry, is well known by the name of 
Katty Gollagher ; but the correct name is Carrig- 
Ollaghan or Carrig- Uallaghan, Ollaghan's or Hoola- 
han's rock. 

There is a townland in Kerry and another in 
Limerick with the formidable name Knockdown, 
but it has a perfectly peaceful meaning, viz., 
brown hill. It required a little pressure to force 
Tuaim-drecon (Four Masters : Brecon's burial 
mound) into Tomregan, the name of a parish on 
the borders of Fermanagh and Cavan ; Tuaim-coill, 
the burial mound of the hazel, a name occurring 
in several parts of "Wexford and Wicklow, is very 
fairly represented in pronunciation by the present 
name Tomcoyle ; Barnycarroll would be taken as 
a man's name by anyone; for Barny (Bernard) 
is as common in Ireland as a Christian name, as 
Carroll is as a surname ; but it is really the name 
of a townland in the parish of Kilcolman in Mayo, 
representing exactly the sound of Bearn-Ui- 
Chearbhaitt, O'Carroll's gap; and in case of 
Laithreach-Chormaic, in Derry (Cormac's larha or 
house-site), the temptation was irresistible to call 
it as it is now called, Larrycormac. 

There are several places in Tipperary and 
Limerick called by the Scriptural name Mount- 
sion : but mount is only a translation of cnoc, and 
sion, an ingenious adaption of sidhedn [sheeawn], 

42 The Irish Local Name System. [PART I. 

a fairy mount ; the full Irish name being 
Cnoc-d-tsidheain [Knocateean], fairy-mount hill: 
and Islafalcon in the parish of Ardtramon, 
Wexford, is not what it appears to be, the 
island of the falcon, but Oiledn-a'-phocdin [Ilaun- 
a-fockaun], the island or river holm of the buck 

"We have a very characteristic example of this 
process in the name of the Phoenix Park, Dublin. 
This word Phoenix (as applied to our park) is a 
corruption of fionn-uisg* [feenisk], which means 
clear or limpid water. It was originally the 
name of the beautiful and perfectly transparent 
spring well near the phoenix pillar, situated just 
outside the wall of the Viceregal grounds, behind 
the gate lodge, and which is the head of the 
stream that supplies the ponds near the Zoolo- 
gical Gardens. To complete the illusion, the 
Earl of Chesterfield, in the year 1745, erected a 
pillar near the well, with the figure of a phoenix 
rising from its ashes on the top of it ; and most 
Dublin people now believe that the Park received 
its name from this pillar. The change from 
fionn-uisg 1 to phoenix is not peculiar to Dublin, for 
the river Finisk, which joins the Blackwater 
below Cappoquin, is called Phoenix by Smith in 
his History of Waterford. 

X. Retention of Irish written Forms. To the 
general rule of preserving the pronunciation, there 
is a remarkable exception of frequent occurrence. 
In many names the original spelling is either 
wholly or partly preserved ; in other words, the 
modern forms are derived from the ancient, not 
as they were spoken, but as they were written. 
In almost all such cases, the names are pronounced 
in conformity with the powers of the English 
letters ; and accordingly whenever the old ortho' 

CHAP. IT.] Systematic Changes. 43 

graphy is retained, the original pronunciation is 
generally lost. 

This may be illustrated by the word rath, which 
is in Irish pronounced raw. There are over 400 
townland names beginning with this word in the 
form of ra, rah, raw, and ray ; these names are 
derived from the spoken, not the written originals ; 
and, while the pronunciation is retained, the spell- 
ing is lost. There are more than 700 names com- 
mencing with the word in its original form, rath, 
in which the correct spelling is preserved ; but the 
pronunciation is commonly lost, for the word is 
pronounced rath to rhyme with bath. It is worthy 
of remark, however, that the peasantry living in 
or near these places, to whom the names have been 
handed down orally, and not by writing, generally 
preserve the correct pronunciation ; of which 
Rathmines, Rathgar, Rathfarnham, and Rathcoole 
are good examples, being pronounced by the peo- 
ple of the localities, Ra-mines, Ra-gar, Ra-f arnham, 
and Ra-coole. 

The principal effect of this practice of retaining 
the old spelling is, that consonants which are aspi- 
rated in the original names, are hardened or re- 
stored in the modern pronunciation. To illustrate 
these principles I have given the following short 
list of words that enter frequently into Irish names, 
each containing an aspirated letter ; and after each 
word, the names of two places of which it forms a 
part, In the first of each pair, the letter is aspi- 
rated as it ought to be, but the original spelling is 
lost ; in the second, the orthography is partly or 
wholly preserved, and the letter is not aspirated, 
but sounded as it would indicate to an English 
reader, and the proper pronunciation is lost : 

1. Ath [ah], a ford : Agolagh in Antrim, Ath- 
gobhlach, forked ford ; Athenry in Galway, a cor- 

44 The Irish Local Name System. [PART I. 

nipt form from Ath-na-riogh (Four Masters), the 
ford of the kings. 2. Gaoth, wind (gwee) ; Mas- 
tergeeha, two townlands in Kerry, Masteragwee 
near Coleraine, and Mostragee in Antrim, the 
master of the wind, so called from the exposed 
situation of the places ; Balgeeth, the name of some 
places in Meath, windy town, the same as Ballyna- 
geeha and Ballynagee in other counties. 3. Tamh- 
nach, a green field [tawnagh] ; Fintona in Tyrone, 
written by the Four Masters Fionn-tamhnach, fair- 
coloured field ; Tamnyagan in the parish of Ban- 
agher, Derry, O'Hagan's field. 4. Damh [dauv], 
an ox ; Davillaun near Inishbofin, Mayo, ox- 
island ; Madame in the parish of Kimaloda, Cork, 
Magh-damh, the plain of the oxen. 

A remarkable instance of this hardening process 
occurs in some of the Leinster counties, where the 
Irish word bothar [boher] , a road, is converted into 
batter. This word " batter" is, or was, well under- 
stood in these counties to mean an ancient road ; 
and it was used as a general term in this sense in 
the patents of James I. It signifies in "Wexford, a 
lane or narrow road : " Bater, a lane bearing to a 
high read." (" Glossary of the dialect of Forth 
and Bargy." By Jacob Poole : Edited by "William 
Barnes, B.D.). "As for the word Bater, that in 
English purpozeth a lane bearing to an highway, I 
take it for a meer Irish worde that crept unawares 
into the English, through the daily intercourse of 
the English and Irish inhabitants." (Stanyhurst 
quoted in same). 

The word occurs in early Anglo-Irish documents 
in the form of bothir, or bothyr, which being pro- 
nounced according to the powers of the English 
letters, was easily converted into batter or batter. 
It forms a part of the following names : Batters- 
town, the name of four townlands in Meath, which 

CHAP, ii.] Systematic Changes. 45 

were always called in Irish Baile-an-bh6thair, i.e., 
the town of the road ; and anglicised by changing 
bothar to batter, and translating bails to town. Bat- 
ter John and Ballybatter are also in Meath. Near 
Drogheda there is a townland called Grreenbatter ; 
and another called Yellowbatter, which are called 
in Irish, Boherglas and Boherboy, having the same 
meanings as the present names, viz. green road and 
yellow road. 

"We have also some examples in and around Dub- 
lin, one of which is the well-known name of Stony- 
batter. Long before the city had extended so far, 
and while Stonybatter was nothing more than a 
country road, it was as it still continues to be 
the great thoroughfare to Dublin from the districts 
lying west and north-west of the city ; and it wae 
known by the name of Bothar-na-g clock [Boherna- 
glogh], i.e. the road of the stones, which was 
changed to the modern equivalent, Stonybatter or 
Stonyroad. One of the five great roads leading 
from Tara, which were constructed in the second 
century, viz. that called Slighe Cualann, passed 
through Dublin by Ratoath, and on towards Bray ; 
under the name of Bealach Duibhlinne (the road or 
pass of the [river] Duibhlinn)* it is mentioned in 
the following quotation from the "Book of 
Rights :" 

" It is prohibited to him (the king of Erin) to go with a host 
On Monday over the Bealach Duibhlinne" 

The old ford of hurdles, which in those early 
ages formed the only foot passage across the Lif- 
fey, and which gave the name of Ath-Cliath to the 
city, crossed the river where Whitworth Bridge 

* Duibhlinn was originally the name of that part of the Ldffey 
on which the city now stands. 

46 The Irish Local Name System. [PART L 

now stands, leading from Church-street to Bridge- 
street ;* and the road from Tara to Wicklow must 
necessarily have crossed the Liffey at this point. 
There can be, I think, no doubt that the present 
Stonybatter formed a portion of this ancient road 
a statement that is borne out by two independent 
circumstances. First Stonybatter lies straight 
on the line, and would, if continued, meet the 
Liffey exactly at Whitworth Bridge. Secondly, 
the name Stonybatter, or Bothar-na-gcloch, affords 
even a stronger confirmation. The most important 
of the ancient Irish roads were generally paved 
with large blocks of stone, somewhat like the old 
Roman roads a fact that is proved by the remains 
of those that can now be traced. It is exactly this 
kind of a road that would be called by the Irish 
even at the present day Bohernaglogh ; and the 
existence of this name, on the very line leading to 
the ancient ford over the Liffey, leaves scarcely 
any doubt that this was a part of the ancient Slighe 
Cualann. It must be regarded as a fact of great 
interest, that the modern-looking name Stony- 
batter changed as it has been in the course of 
ages descends to us with a history seventeen 
hundred years old written on its front. 

Booterstown (near Dublin) is another member 
of the same family ; it is merely another form 
of Batterstown, i.e. Roadtown. In a roll of about 
the year 1435 it is written in the Anglo-Irish 
form, BaUybothyr (Baik-an-bhothair town of the 
road), of which the present name, Booterstown, is 
a kind of half translation. In old Anglo-Irish 
documents frequent mention is made of a road 
leading from Dublin to Bray. In a roll of the 
fifteenth century it is called Bothyr-de-Bree 

Gilbert's " History of Dublin," Vol. I., chap. IX 

CHAP, in.] Corruptions. 47 

(road of Bray) ; and it is stated that it was by this 
road the O'Byrnes and O'Tooles usually came to 
Dublin.* It is very probable that the Booters- 
town road and this Bray road were one and tho 
same, and that both were a continuation of tl c 
ancient Slighe Cualann. 



WHILE the majority of names have been modern- 
ised in accordance with the principles just laid 
down, great numbers, on the other hand, have been 
contracted and corrupted in a variety of ways. 
Some of these corruptions took place in the Irish 
language ; but far the greatest number were in- 
troduced by the English-speaking people in trans- 
ferring the words from the Irish to the English 
language. These corruptions are sometimes so ex- 
tremely irregular and unexpected, that it is impos- 
sible to reduce them to rule, or to assign them to 
any general or uniform influence except mere 
ignorance, or the universal tendency to contrac- 
tion. In most cases, however, they are the result 
of laws or principles, by which certain consonants 
have a tendency to be substituted for others, or to 
be placed before or after them, some of which are 
merely provincial, or attributable to particular 
races of people, while the influence of others mav 
be traced throughout the whole of Ireland. Some 
of these laws of corruption have been noticed by Dr. 

* For this information about Booterstown and Bothyr-de- 
Bree, I am indebted to Mr. Gilbert. 

48 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

O'Donovan and Dr. Reeves ; and I have given ex- 
pression to others : I have here brought them all, 
or the most important of them, under one view, 
and illustrated each by a number of examples. 

I. Interchange of 1, r, n, m. The interchange of 
these letters is common in most languages ; it 
would be easy, if necessary, to give examples, from 
every language of Europe. For instance, the 
modern name Bologna is a corruption of the an- 
cient Bononia ; Palermo of Panormus ; Amsterdam 
of Amstel-dam (the dam of the river Amstel) ,' 
Rousillon of Ruscino, &c. &c. 

The substitution of these letters, one for another, 
is also exceedingly common in Irish names ; and 
since this kind of corruption prevails in Irish as 
well as in English, the names were altered in this 
particular respect, quite as much in one language 
as in the other. L appears to have been a 
favourite letter, and the instances are particularly 
numerous in which it is substituted for the letter 
r. The word sruthair [sruher], a stream, forms 
the whole or part of many names ; and generally 
but not always the r has been changed /, as in 
Shrule, Shruel, Struell, Sroohill, all names of places 
in different parts of Ireland. Biorar, watercress, 
is now always called in Irish biolar, in which form 
it enters into several names, as, for example, Agha- 
viller, a parish in Kilkenny ; the Four Masters 
call it Achadh-biorair [Ahabirrer], the field of the 
watercresses, but the present spoken Irish name is 
Achadh-bhiolair, from which the English form is 
derived ; in Toberburr near Finglas, Dublin, the 
original r is retained (Tobar-biorair, watercress 
well). Loughbrickland in Down was anciently 
Loch-Bricrenn (Four Masters), the lake of Bricriu ; 
and it received its name from an Ulster poet of the 
time of king Conor Mac JN"essa (1st cent.), who, on 

CHAP, in.] Corruptions. 49 

account of the bitterness of his satires, was called 
Bricriu Nemhthenga Bricriu of the poison-tongue 
(see O'Curry, Lect. III. 17). 

N is also sometimes, though not often, changed 
to /, as in the case of Castleconnell near Limerick, 
which is the castle of the O'Connings, not of the 
O'Connells, as the present form of the name 
would indicate. The O'Connings, or as they are 
now called Gunnings, were chiefs of the territory 
of Aes-Greine, extending from Knockgrean to 
Limerick ; and this was their principal castle. 

The change of n to r is one of frequent occur- 
rence ; an example of which is the name of Kil- 
macrenan in Donegal, which is called in Irish 
authorities, Cill-mac-nEnain, translated hy Colgan, 
the church of the sons of Enan, who were con- 
temporaries and relatives of St. Columba. 

The Irish name of Limerick is Luimneach 
[Liminegh : Book of Leinster, &c.], which was 
formerly applied to a portion of the river Shannon ; 
as the following passage from an ancient poem on 
the death of St. Cuimmin of Clonfert, quoted by 
the Four Masters at 561, will show : 

" The Luimneach did not bear on its bosom, of the race of 

Munster, into Leath Chuinn, 

A corpse in a boat so precious as he, Cummine, son of 

and the modern name was derived from this, by a 
change of n to r, and by substituting ck for the 
guttural in the end. 

The root of the word is lorn, bare, of which 
luimne is a diminutive form (see for the diminu- 
tive termination ne, 2nd Vol., c. n.) ; and from 
this again was developed, by the addition of the 
adjective postfix ach, the full name Luimneach 
which signifies a bare or barren spot of land, and 
which was applied to the place long before the 
VOL. i. 5 

60 The Irish Local Name System. [PART l 

foundation of the city. Several conjectural and 
legendary derivations of the name are cited by 
Maurice Lenihan in the " Kilk. Arch. Jour., ' 
1864-6, p. 425, note 1 ; but I do not think it 
necessary to notice them here. 

In connection with the name of Limerick, it 
may be remarked that lorn, bare, is a usual com- 
ponent of local names. There is a place called 
Lumcloon near the village of Cloghan in King's 
County, which the Four Masters call Lomchluain, 
bare cloon or meadow ; or more fully Lomchluain- 
I-Fhlaithile, from the family of O'Flahily, or aa 
they now call themselves, Flattery. There are 
other places of the same name in Carlow and 
Wicklow ; and it takes the form of Lomcloon in 
Sligo. Clonlum in Armagh, and Cloonloum in 
Clare, have the same meaning, the root words 
being reversed. 

Luimneach itself is a name of frequent occur- 
rence, but only in one other place is it anglicised 
Limerick, namely, in the parish of Kilcavan in 
Wexford. It takes the form of Limnagh in 
Sligo ; of Lumnagh near Ballyvourney in Cork ; 
and of Luimnagh in Galway. Lomanagh, the 
name of some places in Kerry ; Lomaunagh (-baun 
and -roe, whitish and reddish) in Galway; and 
Loumanagh in Cork, are slightly different in 
formation ; but they have all the same meaning 
as Luimneach. The word is seen compounded in 
Cloonlumney in Mayo, and in Athlumney in 
Meath, the meadow, and the ford, of the bare 

In some of the northern counties, the Irish- 
speaking people cannot without difficulty articu- 
late the combinations en and gn, and in order to 
facilitate the pronunciation they change the n to r. 
There are about forty-five townlands commencing 

CHAP, in.] Corruptions. 51 

with the word Crock, all in Ulster, except only a 
few in Connaught and Leinster ; and a person 
unacquainted with the present peculiarity might 
be puzzled by this prefix, or might perhaps con- 
sider it an anglicised form of cruach, a rick or piled- 
up hill. But all these Crocks are really Knocks 
disguised by the change of this one letter. In 
the Ulster counties, the termination nagrow or 
nagrew is often found in townland names, as in 
Tullynagrow in the parish of Muckno, Monaghan ; 
this termination has been similarly corrupted, 
Tullynagrow being properly Tulaigh-na-gcno, the 
hill of the nuts. 

The change of I to r is not very common, but it 
is found in some names. Dromcolliher in Limerick 
is properly Dniim-collchoille, the ridge or hill of 
the hazel-wood ; and Ballysakeery, a parish in 
Mayo, is called in Mac Firbis's "Hy Fiachrach," 
Baile-easa-caoile [Ballysakeely], the town of thft 
narrow cataract. Killery harbour in Conneinara 
is called at the present day in Irish Caol-shaire 
[Keelhary], from which the present name is 
formed ; but it should be Caol-shaile, or, as it is 
written more fully by the Four Masters, Caol- 
shaile-ruadh, i. e. the reddish narrow-sea-inlet, a 
most appropriate name. 

The change of m to n, or vice versd, is not of 
frequent occurrence. In Rathangan in Kildare, 
the first n should be m, the correct name as 
written by the Four Masters being Rath-iomghain,' 
Imgan's rath ; and the old rath is still to be seen 
just outside the town, in a field near the church. 
The barony of Glenquin in Limerick takes its name 
from a townland (now divided into three), near 
Newcastle ; the proper anglicised form would be 
Glenquim, for the Irish name is Crleann-a'-chuim, 
the glen of the coom or hollow. 

52 The Irish Local Name System. [PART I. 

N is changed to m in Kilmainham (near 
Dublin), which should have been called Kilmainen; 
it is written Kilmanan by Boate, which shows 
that it has been corrupted within the last two or 
three hundred years. It took its name from St. 
Maighnenn, who was bishop and abbot there 
early in the seventh century, and who is comme- 
morated in the Calendars at the 18th of December. 
The termination of the last name seems to have 
been formed in imitation of the common English 
topographical suffix ham, home. In Moyacomb, 
the name of a parish in Wicklow, there is a 
genuine change of n to m, the Irish name being 
Magh-da-chon [Moyacon : Four Masters] the plain 
of the two hounds. We see the same in Slieve 
Eelim, the name of a mountain range east of 
Limerick city, which is Sliabh-Eibhlinne [Slieve- 
Evlinna] in the Annals, Ebliu's or Eblinn's moun- 
tain ; and it was so called, according to an ancient 
legend in Lebor na hUidhre, from Ebliu, the step- 
mother of Eochaidh, who gave name to Lough 
Neagh, mentioned further on. 

Several of the letter changes now examined 
have been evidently caused, or at least facilitated, 
by the difficulty of articulating the same letter 
twice in immediate succession, and this is a prin- 
ciple of considerable influence in corrupting lan- 
guage. It is easier to say Aghaviller than the 
right name Aghavirrer, and so on in several 
other cases. 

II. Change of ch, gh, dh, and th, to f. The 
guttural sound of c aspirated (ch), as heard in 
loch, cannot be pronounced at all by a speaker of 
mere English ; and as it constantly occurs in 
names, it is interesting to observe the different 
ways in which English substitutes are provided. 
WTien it comes in the end of words, it is often 

CHAP, in.] Corruptions. 53 

passed over altogether, being neither represented 
in writing nor in pronunciation, as in Ballymena 
in Antrim, which is in Irish Baik-meadhonack, 
middle town, the same as Ballymenagh in other 
places. Sometimes, both in the middle and end 
of words, it is represented by gh, which is often 
sounded by the English-speaking natives, like the 
proper guttural ch, as in Lough, Lughany, while 
those who cannot sound the guttural, pronounce 
it as k or h (Lock, Luhany) ; but if this gh occur 
at the end of words, it is commonly not sounded 
at all, as in Fermanagh, Kilnamanagh, &c. In 
the middle of words its place is often supplied by 
\ alone, as in Crohane, the name of a parish in 
Pipperary, and of several townlands, which repre- 
sents cruachdn, a little rick or hill ; and in many 
cases it is represented by k or ck, as in Foorkill 
near Athenry, Galway, Fuarchoill, cold wood. 

Sometimes it is changed to wh, of which a good 
example is seen in Glenwhirry, a parish in An- 
trim, taking its name from the river which runs 
by Kells into the Main. It is called Glancurry 
in the Inquisitions, and its Irish name is Gkann- 
a'-choire, the glen of the river Curry, or Coire, 
this last name signifying a caldron. The caldron 
is a deep pool formed under a cataract ; and a 
rocky hill near it is called Sceir-a?-choire, the rock 
of the caldron, which, in the modernised form 
Skerrywhirry, is the name of a townland. 

But there is a more remarkable change which 
this aspirate undergoes in common with three 
others. In many names, the sounds of the Irish 
aspirated letters ch, gh, dh, and th, are converted 
into the sound of/; and this occurs so frequently 
as to preclude all supposition of mere accident. 
Ch is a hard guttural, as heard in the common 
word lough (loch] ; gh or dh (both which have the 

54 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

same sound) is the corresponding soft guttural ; 
th is sounded exactly like English h. 

The sound of ch is changed to that of / in the 
following names. Knocktopher in Kilkenny is 
in Irish Cnoc-a'-tochair, the hill of the togher or 
causeway, and it was so called from an ancient 
togher across a marsh ; Luffany, the name of two 
to wnlands in Kilkenny, anfhliuchaine [an luhany], 
the wet land ; Clif den, the name of a well-known 
village in Galway, is a very modern corruption of 
Clochdn, which is still its Irish name, and which 
means a beehive-shaped stone house ; but accord- 
ing to some, the Clochdn was here a row of stepping- 
stones across the Owenglin river ; Lisnafiffy, the 
name of two townlands in Down, Lios-na-faithche, 
the Us of the faha or exercise-green ; Fidorfe, 
near Ratoath in Meath, Fidh-dorclia, dark-wood. 

The change of gh or dh to f is not quite so 
common, but we find it in Muff, the name of two 
villages, one in Donegal, and the other in Derry, 
and of eight townlands, all in the northern half 
of Ireland ; it is merely a form of magh, a plain ; 
and the Irish name, as now pronounced in the 
localities, comes very near the English form. 
Balief in Kilkenny is Baik-Aodha, Hugh's town. 
In some cases, instead of the hard labial f y it is 
turned into the corresponding soft labial v, as in 
Lough Melvin in Leitrim ; which is called in the 
Annals, Loch-Meilghe, from Meilghe, king of 
Ireland, A. M. 4678. Adrivale in the parish of 
Drishane, Cork, Eadar-ghabhal, a place between (the 
prongs of) a fork, i. e. a fork formed by rivers. 

The change of th to f is often met with ; but 
it is really a change from the sound of English h 
(which is equal to Irish th) to that of /. The 
parish of Tiscofiin in Kilkenny took its name from 
an < Id church called Tiah-Scoithin [Tee-scoheen] i.e. 

CHAP, in.] Corruptions. 56 

Scoithin's house ; St. Scoithin was a relative of St. 
Ailbe of Emly, and erected his primitive ch/arch 
here towards the close of the sixth century (see 
O'Clery's Gal. 2nd Jan., and Colgan, A. SS., p. 9). 
Cloonascoffagh in the parish of Kilmacshalgan, 
Sligo, cluain-na-scothach, the meadow of the flowers. 
In accordance with the same law, a sruthdn or 
streamlet, is often called sruffane; and this is 
almost always the case in some of the western 
counties, as in Ballintrofaun in Sligo, Baik-an- 
tsrothain, the town of the streamlet. Enniscorthy 
in Wexf ord is generally called by the peasantry of 
the neighbourhood Enniscorfy ; and John Dymmok 
(about 1600 A.D.), writes it Ennerscorfy ; it may 
be doubted whether this is not a genuine change 
of English th to/. 

The greater number of the alterations noticed 
under this heading are attributable to the English 
language ; but there are several instances of words 
and names corrupted similarly by the speakers of 
Irish. For example, the word chuaidh (past tense 
of the verb teidh, go), is pronounced foo in the 
fiouth ; and O'Donovan, in one of his Derry letters, 
informs us that magh, a plain, is there pronounced 
in Irish " something between mugh and muff" 
thereby facilitating or suggesting its conversion 
into the present name, Muff. 

Anyone who had studied the English language 
and its letter-changes might, however, anticipate 
that the Irish gutturals would sometimes be con- 
verted into English/. Words transplanted directly 
from Irish, as might be expected, conform in many 
instances to the letter-changing laws of the Eng- 
lish language ; of which names beginning with the 
word knock may be taken as an illustration. In 
such English words as "knight," " knife," " knee," 
&c., the k sound is now entirely omitted in pro- 

56 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

nunciation ; but in the Anglo-Saxon originals 
cnight, cnif, cneow, both letters the c hard and the 
n were pronounced (Max Miiller, "Lectures," 2nd 
Series, p. 186). The Irish cnoc is subjected to the 
same law; for while both letters are heard in Irish, 
the anglicised form knock is always pronounced 

There is a similar compliance with English cus- 
tom in the change of the Irish gutturals to/. The 
English language, though it has now no gutturals, 
once abounded in them, and in a numerous class 
of words the guttural letters are still retained in 
writing, as in daughter, laughter, night, straight, 
plough, &c. While in many such words the sound 
of the gutturals was wholly suppressed, in others 
it was changed to tH sound of /, as in trough, 
draught, cough, rough. &c. It is curious that the 
struggle between these two sounds has not yet 
quite terminated ; it is continued to the present 
day in Scotland and the north of Ireland, where 
the peasantry still pronounce such words with the 
full strong guttural. 

It will be seen, then, that when the Irish gut- 
turals are corrupted to f, the change is made, not 
by accident or caprice, but in conformity with a 
custom already existing in the English language. 

III. Interchange of d and g. The letters d and 
g when aspirated (dh and gh], are sounded exactly 
alike, so that it is impossible to distinguish them 
in speaking. This circumstance causes them to be, 
to some extent, confounded one with the other ; in 
modern Irish, gh is very generally substituted for 
the older dh. In topographical names, this aspir- 
ated g is often hardened or restored (after the man- 
ner shown at page 43) ; and thus many names have 
been corrupted both in writing and pronuncia- 
tion, by the substitution of g for dh. But as far 

CHAP, in.] Corruptions. 57 

as I have examined, I find only one example of the 
reverse d for gh. 

There are four townlands called Gargrim in the 
counties of Donegal, Fermanagh, Leitrim, and Ty- 
rone, which should have been called Gardrim, for 
the Irish name is Gearrdhruim, i. e. short ridge or 
hill, and it is correctly anglicised in Gardrum, the 
name of two townlands in Fermanagh and Tyrone. 
In exactly the same way was formed Fargrim, the 
name of two townlands, one in Fermanagh, and 
the other in Leitrim ; it is in Irish, Fardhruim or 
Fordhruim (outer ridge or hill), in which form it 
appears in the Four Masters at A.D. 1153; in its 
correct anglicised form, Fardrura, it occurs in Fer- 
managh and Westmeath. Drumgonnelly in the 
parish and county of Louth, should have been 
called Drumdonnelly, from the Irish Druim-Dhon- 
ghaile, the ridge or hill of the Donnellys ; Sliguff 
in Carlow, would be more correctly anglicised Sli- 
duff, the Irish name being Slighe-dhubh, black road ; 
and the townland of Rossdagamph in the parish 
of Inishmacsaint, Fermanagh, is Ros~da-dhamh t 
the promontory of the two oxen. It was a mistake 
the reverse of this, that gave their present English 
name to the Ox Mountains in Sligo. The Irish 
name, in all our Annals, is Sliabh-ghamh (which 
means stormy mountain) ; but the natives be- 
lieving it to be Sliabh-dhamh, i. e. the mountain 
of the oxen, have perpetuated the present incorrect 

IV. Interchange of b and m. These letters are 
often substituted one for the other ; but so far as I 
have observed, the change of b to m occurs oftener 
than the reverse. The tendency to change btom 
appears to be greatly assisted by the grammatical 
law of eclipsis (see p. 21, supra) ; in other words, 
as the sound of m is, in case of eclipsis, correctly 

58 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

substituted for that of b, there is a tendency to 
inaket he same change where there is no eclipsis at 
all to justify it, in which case the change is merely 
a corruption. 

When the preposition a, signifying " in," comes 
before a noun beginning with b, the b is then regu- 
larly eclipsed by m ; and this m has in some cases 
remained after the preposition has been omitted, 
exactly as t was retained in Turagh after the re- 
moval of the article (see Turagh, p. 29, supra). 
The name of Managher in, the parish of Agha- 
dowey in Derry, is a good example of this : for it 
is in reality the same as Banagher (a place of gables 
or pointed rocks: see Banagher, further on). 
When the preposition a is used, the form of ex- 
pression is a-mBeannchair , which is pronounced in 
speaking, a-managher ; and the omission of the 
preposition left the name as it now stands : 
Managher. This form of phrase is very common 
in the Irish language both spoken and written : 
we find it, for example, in. case of this very name, 
Beannchair, in the Four Masters at A.D. 1065. 
where it is recorded that the king of Ulidia wai 
killed atBangor (Ro marbhadh an ri a mBeannchair. 
the king was killed at Bangor). 

It is curious that Stamboul, the modern name 
of Constantinople, exhibits a complete parallel to 
this ; for it appears that this name is a contrac- 
tion of the Greek phrase " es tan polin," i. e. " in 
the city " (Rev. Isaac Taylor's " Words and 
Places "), a phrase corresponding with the Irish 
a-mBeannchair, and the s of the Greek preposition 
has been retained, just as m has been in Managher. 

B is eclipsed by m in some cases where it is 
hard to assign the eclipsis to any grammatical rule ; 
as in case of Cill-mBian [Kilmean] mentioned by 
the Four Masters at A.D. 583 : but here perhaps 

CHAP, in.] Corruptions. 59 

Bian is in the genitive plural (see p. 21, supra). 
It is evidently something like this that takes pl&ce 
in the popular pronunciation of Lisbellaw, often 
heard in the county Fermanagh, viz. Lismellaw ; 
which I do not believe to be a corruption, but the 
correct phonetic representative of Lios-mbel-atha 
(see Lisbellaw further on) . 

In Derry the word bo-theach, cow-house, which 
should be anglicised boyagh, is very commonly 
made moyagh. It was evidently under the "same 
influence that Emlygrennan, the name of a parish 
near Kilmallock in Limerick, was corrupted from 
the proper Irish name, Bile-Ghroidhnin [Billa- 
grynin], Grynan's bile or ancient tree; though here 
the change appears to have been helped by a desire 
to assimilate the name to that of Emly, a well- 
known place in Tipperary, not very far off. 

Ballybodonnel in the parish of Killaghtee in 
Donegal (the town of Donnell's both, booth or tent), 
is often locally pronounced Ballymodonnell ; Bally - 
bofey in the same county is generally made Bally - 
mofey. Mohercrom, the name of a place near 
Bailieborough in Cavan, is corrupted from Boher- 
crom (crooked road), for so it is pronounced by 
the old Irish-speaking natives. Many other ex- 
amples of this change might be given. 

The change of m to b, of which there are some 
undoubted examples, is a mere corruption, not 
admitting even partially, like the reverse change, 
of any grammatical explanation. Ballymoney, in 
Antrim, is usually called Ballyboney in early 
Anglo-Irish records (Reeves: Eccl. Ant. p. 80, 
note u), but I am convinced that Ballymoney is the 
correct form ; and the family name O'Amergin or 
Mergin, is now corruptly made Bergin (O'Donovan : 
Battle of Moyr, p. 290, note x). The name of 
Bannady near Ballaghaderreen in Mayo, originally 

60 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

began with m, for the Four Masters write it Meann- 
oda. There is a place called Bunnafedia in the 
parish of Dromard in Sligo, which is anglicised 
from its present Irish name, Bun-na-fede, the mouth 
of ihefead or streamlet (see Faddan further on). 
Duald Mac Firbis, in his Hy Fiachrach, writes the 
name Bun-fede ; but in a poem in the Book of 
Lecan, written by his ancestor more than 200 
years earlier, the place is called Muine-na-fede (the 
shrubbery of the streamlet) ; and as this is no doubt 
the original form, there is here a change from m 
to b. A change much the same as this occurs in 
the name of Bunnyconnellan in the parish of Kil- 
garvan in Mayo, which was corrupted from the 
correct name Muine-Chonallain (Conallan's shrub- 
bery) as we find it written by Mac Firbis in Hy 

Y. Insertion oft between s and r. The combina- 
tion sr is one of rare occurrence in modern Euro- 
pean languages; there is not a single word in 
English, French, German, Greek, or Latin, begin- 
ning with it, though many of their words are un- 
doubtedly derived from roots commencing with 
these two letters. 

The Irish language has retained this combina- 
tion, and in the Irish dictionaries, a considerable 
number of words will be found commencing with sr. 
Of these there are only four that enter often into 
topographical names. These are srdid, a street^ 
srath, a holm or inch the lowland along a river; 
sron, literally a nose, but in a secondary sense, 
applied to points of hills, promontories, &c. ; and 
srutft, a stream, with its derivatives. It was not 
to be expected that the English language, which 
within its own domain does not admit of the union 
of s and r, would receive these names in all cases 
without alteration. Of the modern townland names 

CHAP, in.] Corruptions. 61 

containing the four words just named, the sr has 
been retained in less than half ; in about forty ' or 
fifty, it has been changed to shr, a combination 
admitted in English ; and in all the rest it has 
been corrupted by the insertion of a t. 

There are about 170 modern names commen- 
cing with sir, and many more containing these 
letters intermediate. In all these, with hardly an 
exception, the t is a late insertion ; for although 
we have words in Irish beginning with sir, there 
are no names derived from them, except perhaps 
about half a dozen. The insertion of a t is one of 
the expedients for avoiding the combination sr, 
which is found in several languages, and which 
has been in operation from the earliest times. We 
find it, for instance, in the O. H. German stroum 
(Eng. stream), and in the name of the well-known 
Thracian river Strymon, both of which are de- 
rived from a Sanscrit root, sru, meaning to flow* 

A few names will illustrate these remarks. In 
Srugreana near Caherciveen, Kerry (Sruth-grea- 
nach, gravelly stream), and in Srananny in 
parish of Donagh, Monaghan (Srath-an-eanaigh 
[Srahananny], the strath or holm of the marsh), 
the initial sr has been retained. It has been 
changed to shr in Shrough, near Tipperary, from 
sruth, a stream ; and also in Shronedarragh, near 
Killarney, the nose or point of the oak. 

In the following names, a t has been inserted: 
Strancally, above Youghal, the well-known seat 
of the Desmonds ; whose castle, now in ruins, was 
built on a point of rock jutting into the Black- 
water, called Srbn-caillighe (Shronekally : Surv. 
1584), the hag's nose or promontory. Ardstraw 
in Tyrone, which the annal sts write Ard-sratha 

See Dr. Whitley Stokes' " Irish Glosses ; " and Dr. W. K. 
Sullivan's Translation of Ebel's ' ' Celtic Studies." 

62 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

[Ard-sraha] , the height of (or near) the river 
holm ; Stradone in Cavan, and Stradowan in 
Tyrone, deep srath or holm. 

This corruption the insertion of t is found 
more or less all over Ireland, but it prevails more 
in the northern counties than anywhere else. In 
Ulster, the combination sr is scarcely admitted at 
all ; for out of about 170 townland names in all 
Ireland, beginning with these two letters, there 
are only twelve in this province, and these are 
wholly confined to Donegal, Fermanagh, and 

VI. Addition ofd. after n, 1, andr\ and o/b after 
m. The most extensive agency in corrupting lan- 
guage is contraction, i. e. the omission of letters ; 
first, in pronunciation, and afterwards in writing. 
This is what Max Miiller calls phonetic decay, and 
he shows that it results from a deficiency of mus- 
cular energy in pronunciation, in other words, from 
laziness. There are cases, however, in which this 
principle seems to be reversed, that is, in which 
words are corrupted by the addition of anomalous 
letters. In English, for instance, a d is often added 
after n, and in Greek, after both n and /; as in Eng. 
thunder from Ang. Sax. thunor ; cinder from Lat. 
(cinis) cineris, &c. ; and in Gr. aner, gen. andros r &c. 
This tendency in English is also noticed by Lhuyd 
in his " Archaeologia" (p. 9). Another corruption 
similar to this, which is found in several languages, 
is the addition of b after m ; as in Eng. slumber from 
Ang. Sax. slumerian ; Fr. nombre from numerus ; 
Lat. comburo from com (con), and uro ; Gr. gambros 
for gamros, &c. Max Miiller shows, however, that 
the insertion of these letters is due to the same 
laziness in pronunciation that causes omission in 
other cases.* 

* See Max Miiller's " Lectures," 2nd Series, p. 178. 

CHAP, in.] Corruptions. 63 

These corruptions are very frequent in Irish 
names, viz., the letter d is often placed after n 
and /, and sometimes after r ; and the letter b after 
m. In the following names the of is a mere excre- 
scence, and has been added in recent times : Terry- 
land near Galway, which the Four Masters write 
Tir-oilein, the district of the island ; Killashandra 
in Cavan is in Irish Cill-a'-sean-ratha, the church 
of the old rath, and it was so called because the 
original church was built within the inclosure oi 
an ancient rath which still exists ; Rathfryland in 
Down is from Rath-Fraeileann, Freelan's rath; 
Tullyland in parish of Ballinadee, Cork, Tulaigh- 
Eileain, Helena's hill. 

D is added after / in the word " field," when this 
word is an anglicised form of coill, a wood, as in 
Longfield, Cranfield, &c., which names have been 
examined at page 39. The same corruption is found 
in the ancient Welsh personal name, Gildas, and 
in the Irish name Mac Donald, which are more 
correctly written Gillas and Macdonnell. 

Lastly, d is placed after r in Lifford, which is in 
j Irish Leithbhearr (Four Mast- ) ; this is a compa- 
ratively modern corruption ; for Spencer, in his 
" View of the State of Ireland," calls it Castle- 
liffer. It is to be observed that this adventitious 
d is placed after n much oftener than after the 
other two letters, / and r. 

The addition of b to m occurs only seldom ; we 
find it in Cumber or Comber, which is the name of a 
town in county Down, and of several townlands in 
different counties, both singly and in composition. 
It is the Irish comar, the confluence of two waters, 
and it is correctly anglicised Cummer and Comer 
in many other places. 

All these changes were made in English, but in 
the Irish language there w<is once a strong ten- 

64 The Irish Local Name System. [PART I. 

dency in the same direction. In what is called 
middle Irish (from the 10th to the 15th century), 
and often also in old Irish, the custom was very 
general of using nd for nn. For instance, the 
word cenn (a head) is cited in this form by Zeuss 
from MSS. of the eighth century ; but in middle 
Irish MSS. it is usually written cend. In all such 
words, however, the proper termination is restored 
in modern Irish ; and so strong was this counter- 
current, that the d was swept away not only from 
words into which it was incorrectly introduced, 
but also from those to which it properly and radi- 
cally belonged. For example, the middle Irish 
word Aiffrend (the Mass) is spelled correctly with 
a d y for it is derived from Lat. offerenda ; but in 
modern Irish it is always spelled and pronounced 

Some of the words and names cited under this 
section afford a curious example of the fickleness 
of phonetic change, and, at the same time, of the 
regularity of its action. We find words spelled in 
old Irish with nn ; in middle Irish, a d is intro- 
duced, and the nn becomes nd; in modern Irish 
the d is rejected, and there is a return to the old 
Irish nn ; and in modern anglicised names, the d 
is reinstated, and nd seems to remain in final pos- 
session of the field. 

There is a corruption peculiar to the northern 
and north-western counties, which is very similar 
to the one now under consideration, namely, the 
sound of aspirated m (wA=Eng. v) is often repre- 
sented in the present names by mph. This mode 
of spelling is probably an attempt to represent the 
half nasal, half labial-aspirate sound of mh, which 
an ear unaccustomed to Irish finds it very difficult 
to catch. Under the influence of this custom 
damh, an ox, is converted into damph, as in Derry 

CHAP, in.] Conniptions. 65 

damph in the parish of Knockbride, Cavan, Do^re- 
damh, the oak- grove of the oxen ; creamh, wild 
garlic, is made cramph, as in Annacramph in the 
parish of Grange, Armagh, Eanach- creamha, wild 
garlic marsh.* 

VII. The letter s prefixed. The Irish word 
teach or tigh, a house or church, as I shall show 
elsewhere, enters extensively into topographical 
names all over Ireland, in the anglicised forms of 
ta, tagh, tee, ti, ty, &c. In some of the eastern 
counties this word is liable to a singular corrup- 
tion, viz., the Irish ta or ti is converted into sta or 
sti, in a considerable number of names, of which 
the following are examples. Stillorgan is in Irish 
Tigh-Lorcain [Teelorkan], Lorcan's church ; and 
it may have received its name from a church 
founded by St. Lorcan or Laurence O'Toole, 
Archbishop of Dublin at the time of the English 
invasion; Stabannon in Louth, ought to be Ta- 
bannon, Banon's house ; Stackallan in Meath, is 
written Teach-collain, by the Four Masters, i. e. 
Collan's house. So also Stirue in Louth, red 
house ; Stapolin near Baldoyle, Dublin, the house 
of Paulin, or little Paul ; and Stalleen near Donore 
above Drogheda, is called in the Charter of Melli- 
font, granted by King John in 1185-6, Teachlenni, 
i. e. Lenne's house. 

This corruption is almost confined to the counties 
of Dublin, Meath, and Louth ; I can find only very 
few examples outside these counties, among which 
are, the parish of Stacumny in Kildare, Stakally 
in the parish of Powerstown, Kilkenny, and 
Tyrella in Down, which is called in the well-known 

* For full information on the subject of letter changes in 
various languages, see Max Miiller's most interesting lecture 
on " I'honetic Change " (Lectures on the Science of Language , 
Second Series). 

VOL. 1. 6 

66 The Irish Local Name System. [PART I. 

Taxation (1306), published by Dr. Reeves, Stagh- 
reel. But its Irish name is Tech-Riaghla [Tahreela : 
O'C. Cal.], the house of St. Riaghal or Regulus, 
who is commemorated on 17th Sept. There are 
altogether in Dublin, Heath, and Louth, about 
twenty- three names which commenced originally 
with Ta or Ti, in about two-thirds of which it has 
become Sta or Sti. 

The Irish word leacht, a sepulchral monument, 
is also, in some of the Ulster counties, corrupted 
by prefixing an ; for example, Slaghtneill and 
Slaghtmanus, both in Londonderry, ought to be 
Laghtneill and Laghtmanus, signifying respec- 
tively Niall's and Manus's monument; and we 
also find Slaghtfreeden, Slaghtybogy, and a few 

This corruption is met with in connection with 
a few other words, as in case of Slyne Head 
(which see further on) : but it is far more frequent 
in the two preceding words than in any other, 
and more common in teach than in leacht. 

It will be recollected that all the corruptions 
hitherto noticed were found capable of explana- 
tion, on some previously established principle of 
language : the reason of the alteration now under 
consideration, however, is not so evident. In case 
of the conversion of ta and ti into sta and sti, I 
would suggest the following as the probable ex- 
planation. The fact that this peculiarity is almost 
confined to Dublin, Meath, and Louth, renders it 
not unlikely that it is a Danish corruption. In all 
the northern languages there are whole classes of 
words commencing with st, which mean habita- 
tion, place, &c. For example, Ang. Sax. stow, a 
dwelling-place, a habitation; stede, a place, a 
station ; Danish, sted, locus, tkjdes ; stad, urbs, 
oppidum ; stede, statio ; Icelandic, stadr, statio, 

HAP. in.] Corruptions. 67 

urbs, oppidum ; stofa, curta domus ; sto, static. 
And I may add, that in Iceland, Norway, 
and other northern countries, several of these 
words are extensively used in the formation of 
names of places ; of which anyone may satisfy 
himself by only looking over a map of one of 
these countries. 

It appears to me, then, sufficiently natural that 
the northern settlers should convert the Irish ta 
and ti into their own significant sta and sti. The 
change was sufficiently marked in character to 
assimilate to some extent the names to their own 
familiar local nomenclature, while the alteration 
t,f form was so slight, that the words still remained 
quite intelligible to the Irish population. It would 
appear more natural to a Dane to say Stabannon 
(meaning Bannon's house) than Tabannon ; and 
an Irishman would understand quite well what 
he meant. 

This opinion is further supported by these two 
well-known facts : first, many places on the eastern 
coast have Danish names, as Waterford, Leixlip, 
Howth, Ireland's Eye, &c. ; and secondly, the 
Danes frequently changed the Irish inis, an island, 
into their own equivalent word, ey, as in the last- 
mentioned name. If it be objected that Tabannon 
could not be converted on this principle into 
Stabannon, because the northern method of form 
ing such names is to place the limiting term first, 
not last, as in Irish (for instance, the Irish order 
is Sta-bannon, but the northern Bannon-sta] ; il 
may be answered that, in anglicising Irish names, 
it is very usual to convert each part of a compound 
wholly or partly into an English word, leaving 
the whole at the same time in the original Irish 
order ; as, for instance, Batter John, Castledonovan, 
Downpatrick, Port Stewart, &c , in which the 

68 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i 

proper English order would be John's Batter. 
Donovan's Castle, &c. 

It is only fair to state, however, that Worsae 
does not notice this corruption, though in his 
"Account of the Danes and Norwegians in 
England, Scotland, and Ireland," he has collected 
every vestige he could find of the Danish rule in 
these countries. 

Notwithstanding the variety of disturbing 
causes, and the great number of individual names 
affected by each, only a small proportion of the 
whole are corrupted, the great majority being, 
as already stated, anglicised correctly, or nearly 
so. When it is considered that there are more 
than 60,000 townlands in Ireland, and when to 
the names of these are added the countless names 
of rivers, lakes, mountains, &c., it will be seen 
that even a small fraction of all will form a num- 
ber large enough to give sufficient play to all the 
corrupting influences enumerated in this chapter. 

I have now examined, in this and the preceding 
chapter, seventeen different sources of change in 
Irish names ; and I have selected these, because 
they are the most striking and important, as well 
as the most extensive in their influence. There 
are other letter changes of a less violent character, 
such as those caused by metathesis, &c., which I 
have not thought sufficiently important to notice. 
The interchange of hard and soft mutes (or tenues 
and medice] is extremely common ; but this, too, 
as not causing considerable obscuration of the 
names, I shall dismiss with a single remark. In 
the formation of anglicised names from Irish, the 
change from hard to soft is comparatively rare, 
while the reverse occurs very frequently. Dulane 
near Kells is an example of the former, its ancient 
name, as spelled by the Four Masters, being Tuilen 

CHAP, iv.] False Etymologies. 69 

or Tuldn, i.e. the little tul or hill ; as examples 
of the latter, it will be sufficient to mention the 
frequent change of dubh (black) to duff, garbh 
(rough), to gariff, carraig (a rock) to carrick, &c., 
in the two former of which the sound of v is con- 
verted to that of /, and in the last, the sound of 
g (in got] is changed to that of k. There are also 
corruptions of an exceptional and unexpected 
character, which 1 have not been able to reduce 
to any principle ; but I shall not dwell on them, 
as the object of these chapters is not so much the 
examination of individual names as the develop- 
ment of general laws. 



IN no department of Irish antiquities have writers 
indulged to such an extent in vague and useless 
conjecture as in the interpretation of local names. 
Our county histories, topographical dictionaries, 
tourists' handbooks, &c., abound in local etymo- 
logies ; but, if we leave out of the question a few 
topographical works lately published, it may be 
safely asserted that these interpretations are, 
generally speaking, false, and a large proportion 
of them inexpressibly silly. Instead of seeking 
out the ancient forms of the names, in authentic 
Irish documents, which in many cases a small 
amount of inquiry would enable them to do, or 
ascertaining the pronunciation from natives, 
writers of this class, ignoring both authority and 
analogy, either take the names as they stand in 
English, or invent original forms that they never 

70 The Irish Local Name System. [PARTI. 

had, and interpret them, each according to his 
own fancy, or to lend plausibility to some favourite 

There are laws and method in etymology, as 
well as in other sciences, and I have set forth in 
the three preceding chapters the principles by 
which an inquirer must be guided in the present 
branch of the subject. But when we see men 
pronouncing confidently on questions of Irish 
etymology, who not only have no knowledge of 
these principles, but who are totally unacquainted 
with the Irish language itself, we cannot wonder 
that their conjectures regarding the signification 
of Irish names are usually nothing better than 
idle and worthless guesses. 

The first who to any extent made use of the 
etymology of Irish names, as an instrument of 
historical investigation, was Vallancey. He built 
whole theories regarding the social condition and 
religious belief of the early inhabitants of Ireland, 
chiefly on false etymologies : but his system has 
been long exploded, and no one would now think 
of either quoting or refuting his fanciful conjec- 
tures. He was succeeded by a host of followers, 
who in their literary speculations seem to have 
lost every vestige of judgment and common sense; 
and the race, though fast dying out under the 
broad sunlight of modern scholarship, is not yet 
quite extinct. I shall not notice their etymologi- 
cal fancies through this book, for indeed they are 
generally quite beneath notice, but I shall bring 
together in the present chapter a few characteristic 

In Ferguson's " River Names of Europe," there 
are near fifty Irish names, whose meanings are 
discussed. Of these, a few are undoubtedly correct ; 
there are about twenty on which I am not able to 

CHAP. iv. J False Etymofogies. 71 

offer an opinion, as I know nothing certain of 
their etymology, and the author's conjectures' are 
far more likely to be wrong than right, for they 
are founded on the modern forms of the names. 
A full half are certainly wrong, and of these one 
example will be sufficient. The name Nenagh 
(river) is derived from Sansc. ni, to move, Gael. 
nigh, to wash ; but a little inquiry will enable 
anyone to see that Nenagh is not the name of the 
river at all, but of the town ; and that even if it 
were, it could not be derived from any root be- 
ginning with n, since the original name is Aenach, 
the initial n being merely the Irish article. The 
real name of the river, which is now almost for- 
gotten, is Owen O'Coffey, the river of the 
O'Coffeys, the family who anciently inhabited the 
district. (See Nenagh, farther on.) 

In Gibson's Etymological Geography, a con- 
siderable number of Irish names are explained ; 
but the author was very careful to instance those 
only whose meanings are obvious, and consequently 
he is generally right. Yet he calls Inishbofin off 
the coast of Mayo, Inishbosine, and interprets it 
Easiness island ! and he confounds Inishcourcy in 
Down with Enniscorthy in Wexford, besides 
giving an erroneous etymology for both. 

The Rev. Isaac Taylor, who also deals frequently 
with Irish names, in a work of great ability, 
" Words and Places," is more cautious than either. 
But even he sometimes falls into the same error ; 
for instance, he takes Armagh as 2 stands, and 
derives it from the preposition ar (on), and magh 
(a plain), though among the whole range of Irish 
names there is scarcely one whose original form 
(Ard-Macha] is better known (see p. 77, infra}. 

There is a parish near Downpatrick, taking its 
name from an old church, now called Inch, i.e. the 

72 The Irish Local Name System. [PART I. 

island, because it was built on a small island or 
peninsula, on the west side of Strangford Lough. 
The full name is Inishcourcy ; and as it is a his- 
torical fact that an abbey was founded there by 
John de Courcy about the year 1180, it is not to 
be wondered at that Harris (in his History of 
Down), and Archdall, fell into the error of believ- 
ing that the name was derived from him. But an 
earlier monastery existed there, called Inis-Cumh- 
scraigh [Inishcooscry], Cooscragh's island, long 
before John de Courcy was born ; and this name 
was gradually corrupted to Inishcourcy, both on 
account of the curious similarity of sound, and of 
that chiefs connection with the place. 

All this will be rendered evident by reference 
to the Annals. We find it recorded in the Four 
Masters that in 1001 " Sitric son of Amlaff set 
out on a predatory excursion into Ulidia in his 
ships; and plundered Kilclief and Inis-Cumh- 
scraigh ; " and Tighernach, who died in 1088, re- 
cords the same event. Moreover, Hugh Maglanha, 
abbot of Inis-cumhscraigh, was one of those who 
signed the Charter of Newry, a document of about 
the year 1160. 

Dr. Reeves has conjectured, what is highly 
probable, that the person who gave name to this 
place was Cumhscrach, one of the sons of Conor 
Mac Nessa, who succeeded his father as king of 
Ulster in the first century. 

It has been said by a philosopher that words 
govern men, and we have an excellent example of 
this in the name of the Black Valley, near Killar- 
ney. Many of our guide-books, and tourists with- 
out number, desciibe it as something wonderful 
in its excessive blackness ; and among them is one 
^ell-known writer, who, if we are to judge by his 
description, either never saw it at all, or wrote 
from memory. 

CHAP, iv.] False Etymologies. 73 

It may be admitted that the direction of this 
valley with regard to the sun, at the time of clay 
when visitors generally see it, has some influence 
in rendering the view of it indistinct ; but it cer- 
tainly is not blacker than many other valleys 
among the Killarney mountains ; and the ima- 
gination of tourists is led captive, and they are 
betrayed into these descriptions of its gloominess, 
because it has been called the Black Valley, which 
is not its name at all. 

The variety of ways in which the original ia 
spelled by different writers Coomdhuv, Cooma- 
dhuv, Coomydhuv, Cummeendhuv, &c. might 
lead anyone to suspect that there was something- 
wrong in the translation ; whereas, if it were in- 
tended for black valley, it would be Coomdhuv, 
and nothing else. To an Irish scholar, the 'pro- 
nunciation of the natives makes the matter per- 
fectly clear ; and I almost regret being obliged to 
give it a much less poetical interpretation. They 
invariably call it Coom-ee-wiv* (this perfectly re- 
presents the pronunciation, except only the w, 
where there is a soft guttural that does not exist 
in English), which will be recognised as Ciim-ui- 
Dhuibh, O'Duff's vaUey. Who this O'Duff was, 
I have not been able to ascertain. 

Clonmacnoise is usually written in the later 
Annals Cluain-mic-Nois, which has been trans- 
lated, and is very generally believed to mean, 
" the retreat of the sons of the noble," a name 
which it was thought to have received, either be- 
cause the place was much frequented by the 

* The popular pronunciation is also preserved in a slightly 
different form by the writer of a poem in the " Kerry Maga- 
zine," vol. i. p. 24 : 

" And there the rocks that lordly towered above ; 
And there the shady vale of Coomewove." 

74 The Irish Local Name System. [PART I. 

nobility as a retirement in their old age, or 
because it was the burial-place of so many kings 
and chiefs. But this guess could never be made 
by anyone having the least knowledge of Irish, 
for in the original name the last two S} r llables are 
in the genitive singular, not in the genitive plural. 
JVos (gen. nois), indeed, means noble, but here it 
is the name of a person, who is historically known, 
and Cluain-mic-Nois means the meadow of the son 
of Nos. 

Though the Irish name given above is generally 
used by the Four Masters, yet at 1461 they call 
the place Cluain-muc-Nois-mic-Fiadaigh, by which 
it appears that this Nos's father was Fiadhach 
[Feeagh], who was a chief belonging to the tribe 
of the Dealbhna-Eathra (now the barony of Garry- 
castle in King's County), in whose territory Clon- 
macnoise was situated. Cluain-muc-Nois would 
signify the meadow of Nos's pigs; but though 
this form is used by Colgan in the Tripartite Life, 
the correct original appears to be Cluain-maccu- 
Nois, for it is so written in the older Annals, and 
in the Carlsruhe Manuscript of Zeuss, which is 
the most ancient, and no doubt the most trust- 
worthy authority of all : this last signifies the 
meadow of the sons of Nos. 

Askeaton in Limerick is transformed to Eas- 
cead-tinne, in a well-known modern topographical 
work on Ireland : the writer explains it " the 
cataract of the hundred fires," and adds, " the 
fires were probably some way connected with the 
ritual of the Druids, the ancient Irish Guebres." 
The name, however, as we find it in many Irish 
authorities, is Eas-Gephtine, which simply means 
the cataract of Gephtine, some old pagan chief. 
The cataract is where the Deel falls over a ledge 
of rocks near the town. 

CHAP, iv.] Fake Etymologies. 75 

I may remark here that great numbers of thetee 
fanciful derivations were invented to prove that 
the ancient Irish worshipped fire. In order to 
show that the round tower of Balla, in Mayo, was 
a fire temple, Vallancey changes the name to 
Beilagh, which he interprets " the fire of fires." 
But in the Life of St. Mochua, the founder, pub- 
lished by Colgan (at the 30th of March), we are 
told that before the saint founded his monastery 
there, in the beginning of the seventh century, 
the place was called Ros-dairbhreach, i.e. oak- 
grove ; that he enclosed the wells of his religious 
establishment with a "balla" or wall (a practice 
common among the early Irish saints) ; and that 
"hence the town received the new name Balla, 
and Mochua himself became known by the cog- 
nomen Ballensis." 

Aghagower, in the same county, Vallancey also 
explains " fire of fires," and with the same object, 
as a round tower exists there. He was not aware 
that the original name was Achadh-fobhair, for so 
it is called in the Four Masters and in the most 
ancient Lives of St. Patrick : it signifies " the 
field of the spring," and the place took its name 
from a celebrated well, which is now called St. 
Patrick's Well. Its name must have been cor- 
rupted at an early date, for Duald Mac Firbis calls 
it Achadh-gabhair ("Hy Fiachrach," p. 151) ; but 
even this does not signify " fire of fires," but a 
very different thing " the field of the goat." 

Smith, in his History of Cork, states that the 
barony of Kinalmeaky means "the head of the 
noble root," from cean, head, neat, noble, and 
meacan, a root. The true form of the name, 
however, is Cinel-mBece (O'Heerin), which was 
originally the name, not of the territory, but of 
the tribe that inhabited it, and which means " the 

7b The Irish Local Name System. [PART I 

descendants (cinel) of Bece," who was the ancestor 
of the O'Mahonys, and flourished in the seventh 

In Seward's Topographical Dictionary it is 
stated that Baltinglass (in "Wicklow) " is derived 
from Beal-tinne-glas, or the fire of Beal's mysteries, 
the fires being lighted there by the Druids in 
honour of the sun ;" and the writer of a Guide to 
Wicklow (Curry, Dublin, 1834) says that it is 
"Bal-teach-na-glass, or the town of the grey houses ;" 
and he adds, " certainly the appearance of them 
bears us out in this'" This is all pure invention, 
for neither of the original forms here given is the 
correct one, and even if it were, it would not bear 
the meaning assigned, nor indeed any meaning at 
all. In ancient documents the name is always 
given Bealach- Chonglais [Ballaconglas : Dinnsen- 
chus], the pass or road of Cuglas, a personage 
connected with the locality, about whom there is 
a curious and very ancient legend : in Grace's 
Annals it is anglicised Balkynglas, which is nearer 
the original than the modern corrupt name. There 
was another Beaktch-Chonglais near Cork city, but 
the name is now lost, and the exact situation of 
the place is not known. 



IN an essay on Irish local names it may be ex- 
pected that I should give some information 
regarding their antiquity. In various individual 

CHAP, v.] The Antiquity of Irish Local Names. 77 

cases through this book I have indicated the da/.e, 
certain or probable, at which the name was im- 
posed ; or the earliest period when it was known 
to have been in use ; but it may be of interest to 
state here some general conclusions, to which the 
evidence at our command enables us to arrive. 

When we wish to investigate the composition 
and meaning of a name, we are not warranted in 
going back farther than the oldest actually existing 
manusciipts in which it is found written, and upon 
the form given in these we must found our con- 
clusions. But when our object is to determine 
the antiquity of the name, or, in other words, the 
period when it was first imposed, we have usually 
a wider scope and fuller evidence to guide us. 

For, first, if the oldest existing manuscript in 
which the name occurs is known as a fact to have 
been copied from another still older, not now in 
existence, this throws back the age of the name to 
at least the date of the transcription of the latter. 
But, secondly, the period when a name happens to 
be first committed to writing is no measure of its 
real antiquity ; for it may have been in use hun- 
dreds of years before being embalmed in the pages 
of any written document. While we-re able to 
assert with certainty that the name is at least as 
old as the time of the writer who first mentioned 
it, the validity of any further deductions regarding 
its absolute age depends on the authenticity of our 
history, and on the correctness of our chronology. 

I will illustrate these remarks by an example : 
The city of Armagh is mentioned in numerous 
Irish documents, many of them of great antiquity, 
such as the Book of Leinster, &c., and always in 
the form Ard-Macha, except when the Latin 
equivalent is used. The oldest of these is the 
Book of Armagh, which is known to have been 

78 The Irish Local Name System. C*ART * 

transcribed about the year 807 ; in this we find 
the name translated by Altitudo Machce, which de- 
termines the meaning, namely, Macha's height. 

But in this same Book of Armagh, as well as 
in many other ancient authorities, the place is 
mentioned in connection with St. Patrick, who is 
recorded to have founded the cathedral about the 
year 457, the site having been granted to him by 
Daire, the chief of the surrounding district ; and 
as the history of St. Patrick, and of this founda- 
tion, is accepted on all hands as authentic, we have 
undoubted evidence that the name existed in the 
fifth century, though we possess no docament of 
that age in which it is written. And even without 
further testimony we are able to say that it is 
older, for it was in use before St. Patrick's arrival, 
who only accepted the name as he found it. 

But here again history, though of a less reliable 
character, comes to our aid. There is an ancient 
tract called Dinnsenchus, which professes to give 
the origin of the names of the most celebrated 
localities in Ireland, and among others that of 
Armagh. It is a fact admitting of no doubt that 
the place received its name from some remarkable 
woman named Macha, and the ancient writer in 
the Dinnsenchus mentions three, from one of 
whom the name was derived, but does not decide 
which. The first was Macha, the wife of Newy, 
who led hither a colony about 600 years after the 
deluge; the second, Macha of the golden hair, 
who founded the palace of Emania, 300 years 
before the Christian era ; and the third, Macha, 
wife of Crunn, who lived in the reign of Conor 
Mac Nessa in the first century. The second 
Macha is recorded to have been buried there ; and 
as she was by far the most celebrated of the three, 
she it was, most probably, after whom the place 

CHAP, v.] The Antiquity of Irish Local Na-mei, 79 

was called. We may conclude, therefore, w<ith 
every appearance of certainty, that the name has 
an antiquity of more than two thousand years. 

Following this method of investigation, we are 
able to determine, with considerable precision, the 
age of hundreds of local names still in use ; and as 
a further illustration, I shall enter into some detail 
concerning a few of the most ancient authorities 
that have come down to us. 

The oldest writer by whom Irish places are 
named in detail is the Greek geographer, Ptolemy, 
who wrote his treatise in the beginning of the 
second century. It is well known that Ptolemy's 
work is only a corrected copy of another written 
by Marinus of Tyre, who lived a short time before 
nim, and the latter is believed to have drawn -his 
materials from an ancient Tyrian atlas. The 
names preserved by Ptolemy are, therefore, so far 
as they are authentic, as old at least as the first 
century, and with great probability much older. 

Unfortunately very few of his Irish names have 
reached our time.* In the portion of his work 
relating to Ireland, he mentions over fifty, and 
of these only about nine, can be identified with 
names existing within the period reached by our 
history. These are Senos, now the Shannon; 
Birgos, the Barrow ; Bououinda, the Boyne; 
Hhikina, Kechra or Rathlin ; Logia, the Lagan ; 
Nagnatai, Connaught ; Isamnion Akron, Rinn 
Seimhne (now Island Magee), i. e. the point of 
Seimhne, an ancient territory ; Eblana, Dublin ; 
and another (Edros) to which I shall return pre- 

The river that he calls Oboka appears, by its 
position on the map, to be the same as the Wicklow 

* The following observations refer to Mercator's Edition, 1605. 

80 The Irish Local Name System. [PART''. 

river now so well known as the Ovoca; but 
this last name has been borrowed from Ptolemy 
himself, and has been applied to the river in very 
recent times. Its proper name, as we find it in 
the Annals, is Avonmore, which is still the name 
of one of the two principal branches that form the 
" Meeting of the Waters." 

He places a town called Dounon near the Oboka. 
It is now impossible to determine the place that 
is meant by this; but the record is valuable, as 
the name is obviously the Keltic dun, with the 
Greek inflexion on postfixed, which shows that 
this word was in use as a local appellative at that 
early age. 

There is one very interesting example of the 
complete preservation of a name unchanged, from 
the time of the Phoenician navigators to the pre- 
sent day. Just outside Eblana there appears a 
small island, which is called Edri Deserta on the 
map, and Edrou Heremos in the Greek text, i. e. 
the desert of Edros ; which last name, after re- 
moving the Greek inflexion, and making allowance 
for the usual contraction, regains the original form 
Edar. This is exactly the Irish name of Howth, 
used in all our ancient authorities, either as it 
stands, or with the addition of Ben (Ben-Edair, 
the peak of Edar) ; still well known throughout 
the whole country by speakers of Irish ; and per- 
petuated to future time in the names of several 
villa residences built within the last few years on 
the hill. 

Some writers have erroneously identified Edrou 
Heremos with Ireland's Eye, probably because the 
former is represented as an island. The perfect 
coincidence of the name is alone sufficient to prove 
that Ben-Edar is the place meant ; but I may add, 
that to the ancient navigators who collected the 

CHAP, v.] The Antiquity of Irish Local Names. 81 

information handed down to us by Ptolemy, Ire- 
land's Eye would be barely noticeable as tfoey 
sailed along our coasts, whereas the bold headland 
of Ben-Edar formed a prominent landmark, certain 
to be remembered and recorded ; and connected as 
it was with the mainland by a low, narrow isthmus, 
it is no wonder they mistook it for an island. 
" Hoath, a great high mountain, . . . having 
the sea on all sides, except the west side ; where 
with a long narrow neck it is joined to the land ; 
which neck being low ground, one may from 
either side see the sea over it ; so that afar off it 
seemeth as if it were an island." (Boate : JN"at. 
Hist, of Ireland). Besides, as we know from our 
most ancient authorities, Howth was a celebrated 
locality from the earliest times reached by history 
or tradition ; whereas Ireland's Eye was a place 
of no note till the seventh century, when it was 
selected, like many other islands round the coast, 
as a place of religious retirement by Christian 

According to some Irish authorities, the place 
received the name of Ben-Edair from a Tuatha De 
Danann chieftain, Edar, the son of Edgaeth, who 
was buried there ; while others say that it was 
from Edar the wife of Gann, one of the five Fir- 
bolg brothers who divided Ireland between them. 
The name Howth is Danish. It is written in 
ancient letters Ho/da, Houete, and Howeth, all dif- 
ferent forms of the northern word /loved, a head 

The Irish names orginally collected for this an- 
cient atlas were learned from the natives by sailors 
speaking a totally different language ; the latter 
delivered them in turn, from memory, to the com- 
piler, who was of course obliged to represent them 
by Phoenician letters ; and they were ultimately 
VOL. i. 7 

82 The Irish Local Name System. [FART 1. 

transferred by Ptolemy into the Greek language. 
It appears perfectly obvious, therefore, that the 
names, as we find them on Ptolemy's map, must 
in general be very much distorted from the proper 
forms, as used at the time by the inhabitants. 

Enormous changes of form have taken place in 
our own time in many Irish names that have been 
transferred merely from Irish to English, under 
circumstances far more favourable to correctness. 
If some old compiler, in drawing a map of Ireland, 
had removed the ancient Ceann Leime (the head 
of the leap) twenty or thirty miles from its proper 
position (as Ptolemy does in case of several places), 
and called it by its present name Slyne Head, and 
if all intermediate information were lost, it is 
highly probable that it would never be recognised. 

When we reflect on all this, and remember be- 
sides that several of the names are no doubt 
fantastic translations, and that with great proba- 
bility many of them never existed at all, except 
in the imagination of the voyagers, we shall cease 
to be surprised that, out of more than fifty, we 
are able to identify only about nine of Ptolemy's 

The next writer after Ptolemy who has men- 
tioned many Irish localities, and whose works 
remain to us, is a native, namely, Adamnan, who 
wrote his Life of St. Columba in the seventh 
century, but the names he records were all in use 
before the time of Columba in the sixth century. 
In this work about forty Irish places are men- 
tioned, and here we have Ptolemy's case reversed. 
The number of names totally lost, or not yet re- 
cognised, does not amount to half-a-dozen. All 
the rest have been identified in Reeves's edition of 
Adamnan ; of these, nine or ten, though now ob- 
solete, occur frequently in Irish MSS., and have 

CHAP, v.j The Antiquity of Irish Local Names. 83 

been in use down to recent times ; the remainder 
exist at the present day, and are still applied to 
the localities. 

It will not be necessary to detail the numerous 
writers, whose works are still extant, that flourished 
at different periods from Adamnan down to the 
time of Colgan and the O'Clerys ; or the ancient 
MSS. that remain to us, enumerating or describing 
Irish localities. It will be enough to say that in 
the majority of cases the places they mention are 
still known by the same names, and have been 

identified in our own day by various Irish 

, T J J 

sc lolars. 

The conclusion naturally following from this is, 
that the names by which all places of any note 
were known in the sixth and succeeding centuries 
are, with some exceptions, the very names they 
bear at the present day. 

A vast number of names containing the words 
dun, rath, Its, caher, carn,fert, cloon, &c., are as old 
at least as the advent of Christianity, and a large 
proportion much older ; for all these terms are of 
pagan origin, though many of them were adopted 
by Christian missionaries. And in various parts 
of this book will be found numbers of territorial 
designations, which were originally tribe names, 
derived from kings and chieftains who flourished 
at different times from the foundation of the palace 
of Emania (300 years B.C.) to the ninth century 
of the Christian era. 

Those ecclesiastical designations that are formed 
from the names of saints after such words as kill, 
temple, donagh, aglish, ti, &c., were generally im- 
posed at various times from the fifth to the eighth 
or ninth century ; and among these may be enu- 
merated the greater number of our parish names. 
One example will be sufficient to illustrate this, 

84 The Irish Local Name System. [PART i. 

but many will be found through the book, espe- 
cially in the next three or four chapters. 

We have undoubted historic testimony that the 
name of Killaspugbrone, near Sligo, is as old as 
the end of the fifth century. It took its name 
from one of St. Patrick's disciples, Bron or 
Bronus, who was also a contemporary and friend 
of St. Brigid of Kildare, and became bishop of 
Cassel Irra, in the district of Cuil-Irra, the penin- 
sula lying south-west of Sligo. In the Book of 
Armagh, and in the Tripartite Life, it is stated 
that after St. Patrick had passed from the For- 
ragh, or assembly place, of the sons of Awly, he 
crossed the Moy at Bartragh, and built the church 
of Cassel Irra for his disciple, Bishop Bronus, the 
son of Icnus. Bronus died on the 8th June, 512, 
on which day he is commemorated in O'Clery'a 
Calendar. And the name Killaspugbrone is very 
little altered from the original CiU-easpuig-Broin 
(Four Mast.), the church of Bishop Bronus. A 
ruined little church still remains on the very spot, 
but it cannot be the structure erected by St. 
Patrick, for the style of masonry proves that it 
belongs to a very much later period. 

The process of name-forming has continued 
from those early ages down to recent times. It in active operation during the twelfth, thir- 
teenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, for we 
have great numbers of names derived from Eng- 
lish families who settled amongst us during these 
periode. It has never entirely ceased, and pro- 
bably never will ; for I might point to some 
names which have been imposed within our own 

The number of names given within the last two 
centuries is so small, however, that we may regard 
the process as virtually at an end, only making 

CHAP, v.] The Antiquity of Irish Local Names. 85 

allowance for those imperceptibly slow changes 
incidental to language in its cultivated stage. The 
great body of our townland and other names are 
at least several hundred years old ; for those that 
we find in the inquisitions and maps of the six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries, which are nume- 
rous and minute, exist, with few exceptions, at the 
present day, and generally with very slight altera- 
tions of form. 





HE face of the country is 
5 ; a book, which if it be 
' deciphered correctly, and 
read attentively, will un- 
fold more than ever did the 
cuneiform inscriptions of 
Persia, or the hieroglyphics 
of Egypt. Not only are his- 
torical events and the names of innumerable 
remarkable persons recorded, but the whole social 
life of our ancestors their customs, their super- 
stitions, their battles, their amusements, their 
religious fervour, and their crimes are depicted 
in vivid and everlasting colours. The characters 
are often obscure, and the page defaced by time, 
but enough remains to repay with a rich reward 
the toil of the investigator. Let us hold up the 
scroll to the light, and decipher some of these in- 
teresting records. 

One of the most noted facts in ancient Irish 
and British history is the migration of colonies 
from the north of Ireland to the neighbouring 

CHAP. i.J Historical Events. 8? 

coasts of Scotland, and the intimate intercourse 
that in consequence existed in early ages between 
the two countries. The first regular settlement 
mentioned by our historians was made in the latter 
part of the second century, by Cairbre Biada, 
son of Conary the second, king of Ireland. This 
expedition, which is mentioned in most of our 
Annals, is confirmed by Bede in the following 
words : " In course of time, Britain, besides the 
Britons and Picts, received a third nation, the 
Scoti, who, issuing from Hibernia under the leader- 
ship of Reuda, secured for themselves, either by 
friendship or by the sword, settlements among the 
Picts, which they still possess. From the name 
of their commander they are to this day called 
Dalreudini ; for in their language Dal signifies a 
part" (Hist. Eccl., Lib. I. Cap. 1). 

There were other colonies also, the most re- 
markable of which was that led by Fergus, Angus, 
and Loarn, the three sons of Ere, in the year 
506, which laid the foundation of the Scottish 
monarchy. The country colonised by these emi- 
grants was known by the name of Airer-Oaedhil 
[Arrer-gale], ("Wars of GGr.), i.e. the territory of 
the Gael or Irish ; and the name is still applied to 
the territory in the shortened form of Argyle, a 
living record of these early colonisations. 

The descendants of Loarn were called Kinel- 
Loarn, the family or race of Loarn (see Ginel 
further on), and gave their name to the territory 
of Lome in Scotland; from which again the 
Marquis of Lome has his title. 

The tribes over whom Carbery ruled were, aa 
Bede and our own Annals record, called from him 
Dalriada, Riada's portion or tribe ; of which there 
were two one in Ireland, and the other and more 
illustrious in Scotland. The name has boen long 

38 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

forgotten in the latter country, but still remains 
in Ireland, though in such a worn down and frag- 
mentary state, that it requires the microscope of 
the philologist and historian to recognise it. 

The Irish Dalriada included that part of Antrim 
extending from the Ravel water northwards, and 
the same district is called at the present day the 
Route, or by Latin writers Ruta, which is consi- 
dered by Ussher and O'Flaherty to be a corruption 
of the latter part of DsH-Hiada. If this opinion 
be correct and I see DO reason to question it 
there are few local names in the British islands 
more venerable for antiquity than this, preserving 
with little alteration, through the turmoil of 
seventeen centuries, the name of the first leader of 
a Scotic colony to the coasts of Alban. 

The name of Scotland also commemorates these 
successive emigrations of Irishmen ; it has, more- 
over, an interesting history of its own, and exhibits 
one of the most curious instances on record of the 
strange vicissitudes to which topographical names 
are often subjected, having been completely trans- 
ferred from one country to another. 

The name Scotia originally belonged to Ireland, 
and the Irish were called Scoti or Scots ; Scot- 
land, which was anciently called Alba, subse- 
quently got the name of Scotia Minor, as being 
peopled by Scots from Ireland, while the parent 
country was for distinction often called Scotia 
Major. This continued down to about the eleventh 
century, when Ireland returned to the other native 
name Mire, and "Scotia" was thenceforward ex- 
clusively applied to Scotland. The name Ireland 
is merely the Anglo-Saxon name Iraland, i. e. 
Eire-land (see Ireland in second volume). 

That the Scoti were the inhabitants of Ireland 
\rould be sufficiently proved by the single quota- 

CHAP, i.] Historical Events. 89 

tion given above from Bede ; but besides, i we 
find it expressly stated by several other ancient 
authorities ; and the Irish are called Scoti in 
Cormac's Glossary, as well as in other native 
writings. Adamnan often uses Hibernia and 
Scotia synonymously : thus in his Life of Columba 
we find the following passage : " On a certain 
day the holy man ordered one of his monks named 
Trenan of the tribe of Mocuruntir, to go on a 

commission to Scotia (ad Scotiam] : The 

saint answering him, ' Go in peace ; you shall have 
a favourable and erood wind till you arrive in 
Hibernia (ad Hiberniam] ;; you shall find a man 
coming to meet you from a distance, who will be 
the first to seize the prow of your ship in Scotia 
(in Scotia) ; he will accompany you in your 
journey for some days in Hibernia." (Lib. L, 
Cap. 18). 

Many testimonies of this kind might be adduced 
from other writers; and if another clear proof 
were necessary, we find it in an ode of the poet 
Claudian, celebrating a victory of Theodosius over 
the three nations of the Saxons, the Picts, and 
the Scots, in which the following passage occurs: - 
" The Orcades flowed with Saxon gore ; Thule 
became warm with the blood of the Picts ; and icy 
lerne wept her heaps of (slaughtered) Scots " 

The foundation of the celebrated palace of 
Eamhuin or Emania, which took place about 300 
years before the Incarnation, forms an important 
epoch ; it is the limit assigned to authentic Irish 
history by the annalist Tighernach, who asserts 
that all accounts of events anterior to this are 
uncertain. The following are the circumstances 
of its origin as given in the Book of Leinster. 
Three Kings, Aedh-ruadh [Ayroo]. Dihorba, and 
Ciombaeth [Kimbay], agreed to reign each for 

90 Historical and Legendary Names- [PART n. 

seven years in alternate succession, and they each 
enjoyed the sovereignty for three periods, or 
twenty-one years, when Aedh-ruadh died. His 
daughter, the celebrated Macha of the golden hair, 
asserted her right to reign when her father's turn 
came, and being opposed by Dihorba and his sons, 
she defeated them in several battles, in one of 
which Dihorba was killed, and she then assumed 
the sovereignty. 

She afterwards married the surviving monarch, 
Embay, and took the five sons of Dihorba pri- 
soners. The Ultonians proposed that they should 
be put to death: "Not so," said she, "because 
it would be the defilement of the righteousness of 
a sovereign in me ; but they shall be condemned 
to slavery, and shall raise a rath around me, and 
it shall be the chief city of Ulster for ever." The 
account then gives a fanciful derivation of the 
name ; " And she marked for them the dun with 
her brooch of gold from her neck," so that the 
palace was called Eomuin or Eamhuin, from eo, a 
brooch, and muin the neck (see Armagh, p. 77, 
and O'Curry's Lectures, p. 527). 

The remains of this great palace are situated 
about a mile and a half west of Armagh, and 
consist of a circular rath or rampart of earth with 
a deep fosse, enclosing about eleven acres, within 
which are two smaller circular forts. The great 
rath is still known by the name of the Navan 
Fort, in which the original name is c iriously 
preserved. The proper Irish form is JEamhuin, 
which is pronounced aven, E mania being merely 
a latinised form. The Irish article an, contracted 
as usual to n, placed before this, makes it nEam- 
huin, the pronunciation of which is exactly repre- 
sented by Navan (see page 23, supra}. 

This ancient palace was destroyed in A.D. 332, 

CHAP. ].] Historical Events. 91 

after having flourished as the chief royal resi- 
dence of Ulster for more than 600 years ; and it 
would perhaps be difficult to identify its site with 
absolute certainty, were it not for the singular 
tenacity with which it has retained its name 
through all the social revolutions of sixteen hun- 
dred years. 

The Red Branch Knights of Ulster, so cele- 
brated in our early romances, and whose renown 
has descended to the present day, flourished in 
the first century, and attained their greatest glory 
in the reign of Conor Mac Nessa. They were a 
kind of militia in the service of the monarch, and 
received their name from residing in one of the 
houses of the palace of Emania, called Craebh-. 
ruadh [Creeveroe] or the Red Branch, where they 
were trained in valour and feats of arms. The 
name of this ancient military college is still pre- 
served in that of the adjacent townlandof Creeve- 
roe ; and thus has descended through another 
medium, to our own time, the echo of these old 
heroic days. 

Another military organisation not less cele- 
brated, of somewhat later date, was that of the 
Fians, or Feni, or, as they are often called, the 
Fianna of Erin. They flourished in the reign of 
Cormac mac Art in the third century, and formed 
a militia for the defence of the throne ; their leader 
was the renowned Finn mac Cumhail [Finn mac 
Coole], who resided at the hill of Allen in Kil- 
dare, and whom Macpherson attempted to transfer 
to Scotland under the name of Fingal. Finn and 
his companions are to this day vividly remembered 
in tradition and legend, in every part of Ireland ; 
and the hills, the glens, and the rocks still attest, 
not merely their existence, for that no one who 
has studied the question can doubt, but the 

92 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

important part they played in the government and 
military affairs of the kingdom. 

One of the principal amusements of these old 
heroes, when not employed in war, was hunting ; 
and during their long sporting excursions they 
had certain favourite hills on which they were in 
the habit of resting and feasting during the inter- 
vals of the chase. These hills, most of which are 
crowned by earns or moats, are called Suidhe-Finn 
[Seefin], Finn's seat or resting place, and they 
are found in each of the four provinces ; the name 
appears to have belonged originally to the earns, 
and to have extended afterwards to the hills. 

There is one among the Dublin mountains, a 
few miles south of Tallaght ; another among the 
Galties ; and the fine mountain of Seefin termi- 
nates the Ballyhoura range towards the north-east, 
three miles south of Kilfinane in Limerick. Im- 
mediately under the brow of this mountain 
reposes the beautiful vale of Glenosheen, whose 
name commemorates the great poet and warrior, 
Oisin, the son of Finn; and in several of the 
neighbouring glens there are rocks, which are 
associated in the legends of the peasantry with 
the exploits of these ancient warriors. There are 
also places called Seefin in Cavan, Armagh (near 
Newry), Down, King's County, Galway, Mayo, 
and Sligo ; while in Tyrone we find Seein, which 
is the same name with the /aspirated and omitted. 
Finn's father, Cumhal [Coole], was slain by Gaul- 
mac-Morna at the terrible battle of Cnucha or 
Castleknock, near Dublin ; he is believed to have 
had his residence at Rathcoole (Cumhal's rath), 
now a small town nine miles south-west of the 
city ; but I cannot find that any vestige of his 
rath remains. 

There are numerous places in every part of 

CHAP, i.] Historical Events. 93 

Ireland, where, according to tradition, Finn's 
soldier's used to meet for various purposes ; and 
many of them still retain names that speak plainly 
enough of these assemblies. In the county Mo- 
naghan we find Lisnaveane, that is, Lios-na- 
bhFiann, the fort of the Fianna ; in Donegal 
Meenavean, where on the meen, or mountain flat, 
they no doubt rested from the fatigues of the 
chase ; near Killorglin in Kerry, Derrynafeana 
(Deny, an oak-wood), and in another part of the 
same county is a river called Owennafeana; in 
Westmeath, Carnlyan and Skeanaveane (Skea, a 
bush) ; and many other such names. 

The name of Leinster is connected with one of 
the most remarkable of the very early events 
recorded in the history of Ireland. In the third 
century before the Christian era, Coffagh Gael 
Bra murdered his brother, Leary Lore, monarch 
of Ireland, and the king's son, Olioll Aine, and 
immediately usurped the throne. Maen, after- 
wards called Labhradh Linshagh (Lavra the ma- 
riner), son of Olioll, was banished by the usurper ; 
and having remained for some time in the south 
of Ireland, he was forced to leave the country, 
and crossed the sea to Gaul. He entered the 
military service of the king of that country, and 
after having greatly distinguished himself, he 
returned to his native land with a small army of 
foreigners, to wrest the crown from the murderer 
of his father and grandfather. 

He landed at the mouth of the Slaney in Wex- 
ford, and after having been joined by a number 
of followers, he marched to the palace of Dinn 
Righ [Dinree, the fortress of the kings], in which 
Coffagh was then holding an assembly with thirty 
native princes and a guard of 700 men. The 
palace was surprised by night, set on fire, and all 

94 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART il. 

its inmates king, princes, and guards burned 
to death. Maen then assumed the sovereignty, 
and reigned for nineteen years. 

The exact description of the annalists identifies 
very clearly the position of this ancient palace, the 
great mound of which still exists, though its name 
has been long forgotten. It is now called Bally- 
knockan moat, and lies on the west bank of the Bar- 
row, a quarter of a mile south of Leighlinbridge 

Lavra's foreign auxiliaries used a peculiarly- 
shaped broad-pointed spear, which was called 
laighen [layen] ; and from this circumstance, the 
province in which they settled, which had pre- 
viously borne the name of Galian, was afterwards 
called Laighen, which is its present Irish name. 
The syllable " ster " (for which see farther on) 
was added in after ages, and the whole word pro- 
nounced Laynster, which is the very name given 
in a state paper of the year 1515, and which 
naturally settled into the present form Leinster. 

Lavra's expedition is mentioned by Tighernach, 
and by most of the other annalists who treat of 
that period; but as his adventures have been 
amplified into a romantic tale in the Book of 
Leinster,* which is copied by Keating and others, 
the whole story, if it were not confirmed, would 
probably be regarded as a baseless legend. The 
word Gall has, however, been used in the Irish 
language from the remotest antiquity to denote a 
foreigner. For some centuries before the Anglo- 
Norman invasion it was applied to the Danes, 
and since that period to the English both appli- 
cations being frequent in Irish manuscripts; 
but it is obvious that it must have been origi- 
nally applied to a colony of Gauls, sufficiently 

* For which see O'Curry's Lectures, p. 25- 

CHAP, i.] Historical Events. 95 

numerous and important to fix the word in the 

We find it stated in Cormac's Glossary that the 
word Gall was applied to pillar stones, because 
they were first erected in Ireland by the Galli, or 
primitive inhabitants of France ; which not only 
corroborates the truth of the ancient tradition of 
a Gaulish colony, but proves also that the word 
Gall was then believed to be derived from this 
people. Thus the story of Lavra's conquest is 
confirmed by an independent and unsuspicious 
circumstance ; and as it is recorded by the accu- 
rate Tighernach, and falls within the limits of 
authentic Irish history as fixed by that annalist 
(about 300 years B. c.), there seems no sufficient 
reason to doubt its truth. 

The little island of Inchagoill in Lough Corribj 
midway between Oughterard and Cong, is one of 
the few examples we have remaining, in which 
the word Gall is applied in its original significa- 
tion, i. e. to a native of Gaul ; and it corroborates, 
moreover, an interesting fragment of our ancient 
ecclesiastical history. The name in its present 
form is anglicised from Inis-an-Ghoill, the island 
of the Gall, or foreigner, but its full name, as 
given by O'Flaherty and others, is Inis an-Ghoill- 
chraibhthiyh [crauvy], the island of the devout 
foreigner. This devout foreigner was Lugnat or 
Lugnaed, who according to several ancient autho- 
rities, was the lumaire or pilot of St. Patrick, and 
the son of his sister Liemania. Yielding to the 
desire for solitude, so common among the ecclesi- 
astics of that early period, he established himself, 
by permission of his uncle, on the shore of Lough 
Mask, and there spent his life in prayer and 

This statement, which occurs in the Tripartite 

96 Histwical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

Life of St. Patrick, as well as others relating to 
the family history of the saint, was by many 
impugned as unworthy of credit, till it received 
an unexpected confirmation in the discovery on 
the island of Lugnaed's headstone by Dr. Petrie. 
It is a small pillar-stone, four feet high, and it 
bears in old Roman characters this inscription : 
"LiE LUGNAEDON MACC LiMENUEH," the stone of 
Lugnaed the son of Limenueh, which is the 
oldest Roman letter inscription ever discovered in 
Ireland.* Near it is the ruin of a small stone 
church called Templepatrick, believed and with 
good reason according to Petrie to have been 
founded by St. Patrick : if this be so, it is pro- 
bable that it is the very church in which Lugnaed 

In several old authorities, this saint's name is 
written Lugna [Loona], in which form we find it 
preserved in another locality. Four miles north- 
north-east from Ballinrobe, in the demesne of 
Ballywalter, is an ancient church which is be- 
lieved, in the traditions of the inhabitants, to be 
the third church erected in Ireland. Near the 
burial-ground is a holy well, now known by the 
name of Toberloona, but which is called Tobar- 
Lugna in Mac Firbis's Poem in the Book of Lecan", 
i. e. Lugna's well. It is well known that among 
St. Patrick's disciples, his own nephew was the 
only one that bore the name of Lugna, and as 
this well is in the very neighbourhood where he 

* I find that Dr. W. Stokes, in his recent edition of Cormac's 
Glossary, has given a somewhat different reading of this in- 
scription, viz.: " LIE LUGU^EDON MACCI MENUEH, " the stone 
of Lugeed, the son of Menueh. Whether this reading is incon- 
sistent with the assumption that the stone marks the grave of 
Lugnat, St. Patrick's nephew, I will not now undertake to 
determine ; but the matter deserves investigation. 

HAP. i.] Historical Events. 97 

settled, it appears quite clear that it was dedicated 
to him, and commemorates his name. 

We have at least two interesting examples of 
local names formed by the word Gall as applied 
to the Danes Fingall and Donegal. A colony of 
these people settled in the district lying north of 
Dublin, between it and the Delvin river, which 
in consequence, is called in our authorities (O'C. 
Cal., Wars of GG., &c.), Fine- Gall, the territory 
or tribe of the Galls or Danes ; and the same 
territory is still well known by the name of Fin- 
gall, and the inhabitants are locally called Fin- 

Donegal is mentioned in several of our Annals, 
and always in the form of Dun-na-nGall, the 
fortress of the foreigners. These foreigners must 
have been Danes, and the name was no doubt 
applied to an earthen dun occupied by them ante- 
rior to the twelfth century ; for we have direct 
testimony that they had a settlement there at an 
early period, and the name is older than the 
Anglo-Norman invasion. Dr. Petrie quotes an 
ancient Irish poem (Irish Penny Journal, p. 185), 
written in the tenth century, by the Tyrconnellian 
bard, Flann mac Lonan, in which it is stated that 
Egnahan, the father of Donnel, from whom the 
O'Donnells derive their name, gave his three 
beautiful daughters, Duvlin, Bebua, and Bebinn, 
in marriage to three Danish princes, Caithis, 
Torges, and Tor, with the object of obtaining 
their friendship, and to secure his territory from 
their depredations ; and the marriages were cele- 
brated at Donegal, where Egnahan then resided 
But though we have thus evidence that a fort 
existed there from a very remote time, it is pretty 
certain that a castle was not erected there by the 
O'Donnells till the year 1474. 

VOL. i. 8 

98 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

The Annals of Ulster relate that the Danish 
fortress was burned in 1159, by Murtough 
M'Loughlin, king of the Northern Hy Neill: 
not a vestige of it now remains, but O'Donovan 
considers it likely that it was situated at a ford 
which crossed the river Esk, immediately west of 
the old castle, and which the Four Masters at 
1419 call Ath-na-nGall, the ford of the foreigners. 

There are several other places through the 
country called Donegal or Dungall, having the 
same general meaning; we have no evidence 
to show whether the foreigners were Danes or 
English ; possibly they were neither. Dungall 
in the parish of Kirkinriola in Antrim, takes its 
name from one of the grandest circular forts in 
Ireland, which is certainly far older than either 
Danes or English. 

There are great numbers of names in all parts 
of Ireland, in which this word Gall commemorates 
English settlements. Galbally in Limerick is 
called in the Four Masters, Gfallbhaile, English- 
town, and it probably got its name from the 
Fitzgeralds, who settled there at an early period ; 
and there are besides, a dozen other places of the 
same name, ten of them being in Tyrone and 
Wexford. Galwally in Down, Galvally in Derry, 
and Gallavally in Kerry are all the same name, 
but the b is aspirated as it ought to be. 

Ballynagall, Ballynagaul, and Ballygall, all 
townland names of frequent occurrence, mean also 
the town of the Englishmen ; and I am of opinion 
that Gaulstown, a name common in Kilkenny and 
Meath, is a translation of Ballynagall. The ter- 
minations^//, nagall, gill, and guile, are exceedingly 
common all over Ireland ; the two former generally 
mean "of the Englishmen," and the two latter 
' of the Englishman ; " Clonegall in Carlow, and 

CHAP, i.j Historical Events. 99 

Clongall in Meath, signify the Englishmen's 
meadow ; Moneygall in King's County, the shrub- 
bery of the strangers ; Clongill in Meath, the 
Englishman's meadow ; Ballinguile and Ballyguile 
in Cork and Wicklow, the town of the English- 

Gallbhuaile [Galvoola] is a name that often 
occurs in different anglicised forms, meaning 
English-booley, i.e. a booley or dairy place belong- 
ing to English people. In Tipperary it gives 
name to the parish of Galbooly ; in Donegal it is 
made Galwolie ; while in other places we find it 
changed to Galboley and Galboola. 

The mouth of the Malahide river, near Dublin, 
is called by the strange name of Muldowney among 
the people of the locality, a name which, when 
fully developed under the microscope of history, 
will remind us of a colony still more ancient than 
those I have mentioned. The Firbolgs, in their 
descent on Ireland, divided themselves into three 
bodies under separate leaders, and landed at three 
different places. The men of one of these hordes 
were called Firdomnainn [Firdownan], or the men 
of the deep pits, and the legendary histories say 
that they received this name from the custom of 
digging deeply in cultivating the soil. 

The place where this section landed was for 
many ages afterwards called Inver-Domnainn 
(Book of Leinster), the river mouth of the Dom- 
naniis, and it has been identified, beyond all dispute, 
with the little bay of Malahide ; the present vulgar 
name Muldowney, is merely a corruption of Maeil- 
Domnainn, in which the word maeil, a whirlpool, 
is substituted for the inbher of the ancient name. 
Thus this fugitive-looking name, so little remark- 
able that it is not known beyond the immediate 
district, with apparently none of the marks of age 

100 Historical, and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

or permanency, can boast of an antiquity "beyond 
the misty space of twice a thousand years," and 
preserves the memory of an event otherwise for- 
gotten by the people, and regarded by many as 
mythological ; while, at the same time, it affords 
a most instructive illustration of the tenacity with 
which loose fragments of language often retain 
the footmarks of former generations. 

According to our early histories, which in this 
particular are confirmed by Bede (Lib. I., Cap. I.), 
the Picts landed and remained some time in Ireland, 
on their way to their final settlement in Scotland. 
In the Irish Annals, they are usually called 
Cruithne [Cruhne], which is also the term used 
by Adamnan, and which is considered to be 
synonymous with the word Picti, i.e. painted, 
from cruith, colour. After their establishment 
in Scotland, they maintained intimate relations 
with Ireland, and the ancient Dalaradia, which 
extended from Newry to the Ravel "Water in. 
Antrim, is often called in our Annals the country 
of the Crutheni. It is probable that a remnant 
of the original colony settled there ; but we know 
besides that its inhabitants were descended through 
the female line, from the Picts ; for Irial Glunmore 
(son of Conall Carnagh), the progenitor of these 
people, was married to the daughter of Eochy, 
king of the Picts of Scotland. 

Several places in the north of Ireland retain 
the name of this ancient people. Duncrun, in the 
parish of Magilligan, Derry, was in old days a 
place of some notoriety, and contained a church 
erected by St. Patrick, and a shrine of St. Columba ; 
it must have originally belonged to a tribe of Picts, 
for it is known in the Annals by the name of Dun- 
Cruithne (Four Masters), which Colgan (Tr. Th., 
p. 181, n. 187), translates drx Cruthcenorum, the 

CHAP. T.] Historical Events. 101 

fortress of the Cruthnians. In the parish of 
Macosquin, in the same county, there is a town- 
land called Drumcroon, and one in the parish of 
Devenish, Fermanagh, with the name of Drum- 
croohen, both of which signify the Picts' ridge. 

After the Milesian conquest of Ireland, the 
vanquished races, consisting chiefly of Firbolgs 
and Dedannans, were kept in a state of subjection 
by the conquerors, and oppressed with heavy 
exactions, which became at last so intolerable 
that they rose in rebellion, early in the first 
century, succeeded in overthrowing for a time the 
Milesian power, and placed one of their own chiefs, 
Carbery Kincat, on the throne. After the death 
of this king the Milesian monarchy was restored 
through the magnanimity of his son Moran. 
These helot races, who figure conspicuously in 
early Irish history, are known by the name of 
Aitheach-Tuatha [Ahathooha], which signifies 
literally, plebeian races ; and they are considered 
by some to be the same as the Attacotti, a tribe 
who are mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus and 
by St. Jerome, as aiding the Picts and Scots against 
the Britons. 

In the barony of Carra, county of Mayo, there 
is a parish called Touaghty, preserving the name 
of the ancient territory of Tuath-Aitheachta [Thoo- 
ahaghta], so written by MacFirbisin "Hy Fiach- 
rach," which received its name from having been 
anciently occupied by a tribe of Firbolgs: the 
name signifies the tuath or district of the Attacotti 
or plebeians. 

To travellers on the Great Southern and Western 
Railway, the grassy hill of Knocklong, crowned by 
its castle ruins, forms a conspicuous object, lying 
immediately south of the Knocklong station. This 
hill was, many ages ago, the scene of a warlike 

102 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART IL 

gathering, the memory of which is still preserved 
in the name. 

In the middle of the third century, Cormac mac 
Art, monarch of Ireland, undertook an expedition 
against Fiacha Muilleathan [Mullahan], king of 
Munster, to reduce him to submission, and lay the 
province under additional tribute ; and his army 
marched from Tara unopposed, till they pitched 
their tents on this hill, which was up to that time 
called Druim-damhghaire [da vary], the bill of the 
oxen. The Munster king marched to oppose him, 
and encamped on the slope of the opposite hill, 
then called Slieve Claire, but now Slievereagh (grey 
mountain), lying south of Knocklong, and north- 
east of Kilfinane. 

After a protracted struggle, and many combats 
in the intervening plain, Cormac, defeated and 
baffled, was forced to retreat without effecting his 
object. He was pursued, with great loss, as far 
as Ossory, and obliged by Fiacha to give security 
that he would repair the injury done to Munstel 
by this expedition. And from this event the hill 
of Knocklong received its name, which is in Irish, 
Cnoc-luinge, the hill of the encampment. 

These are the bare historical facts. In the Book 
of Lecan there is a full narrative of the invasion 
and repulse ; and it forms the subject of a histori- 
cal tale called the Forbais or Siege of Dmim,' 
damhghaire, a copy of which is found in the Book 
of Lismore Like all historical romances, it is 
embellished by exaggeration, and by the introduc- 
tion of fabulous circumstances ; and the druids of 
both armies are made to play a conspicuous part 
in the whole transaction, by the exercise of their 
magical powers. 

It is related that Cormac's druids dried up, by 
their incantations, the springs, lakes, and rivers of 

CHAP, i,} Historical Events. 103 

the district, so that the men and horses of, the 
Munster army were dying of thirst. Fiacha, in 
this great distress, sent for Mogh-Ruith [Mo-rih], 
the most celebrated druid of his time, who lived 
at Dairbhre [Darrery], now Valentia island in 
Kerry; and he came, and the men of Munster 
besought him to relieve them from the plague of 

Mogh-Ruith called far his disciple Canvore, and 
said to him, " Bring me my magical spear ;" and 
his magical spear was brought, and he cast it high 
in the air, and told Canvore to dig up the ground 
where it fell. " What shall be my reward?" said 
Canvore. " Your name shall be for ever on the 
stream," said Mogh-Ruith. Then Canvore dug 
the ground, and the living water burst asunder 
the spells that bound it, and gushed forth from 
the earth, in a great stream ; and the multitudes 
of men and horses and cattle threw themselves 
upon it, and drank till they were satisfied. Cormac 
was then attacked with renewed vigour, and his 
army routed with great slaughter. 

I visited this well a few years ago. It lies on 
the road side, in the townland of Glenbrohane, 
near the boundary of the parish of Emlygrennan, 
three miles to the south of Knocklong; and it 
springs from a chasm, evidently artificial, dug in 
the side of Slievereagh, forming at once a very 
fine stream. It is still well known in the district 
by the name of Tober Canvore, Canvore' s well, as 
I found by a very careful inquiry ; so that Canvore 
has received his reward. 

That the Munster forces may have been oppressed 
by an unusual drought which dried up the springs 
round their encampment, is nothing very impro- 
bable ; and if we only suppose that the druid pos- 
sessed some of the skill in discovering water with 

104 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

which many people in our own day are gifted, we 
shall not find it difficult to believe that this mar- 
vellous narrative may be in the main true ; for 
all unusual occurrences were in those days ac- 
counted supernatural. And this view receives 
some confirmation from the prevalence of the 
tradition at the present day, as well as from the 
curious circumstance, that the well is still called 
Tober Canvore. 

There is a village on the east side of the rivei 
Moy, a kind of suburb of Ballina, called Ardnarea. 
a name which discloses a dark tale of treachery 
and murder ; it was originally applied to the hill 
immediately south of the village, which is now 
called Castle Hill, from a castle that has long since 
disappeared. The event that gave origin to this 
name is very fully related by Mac Firbis in his 
account of the Tribes and Customs of the Hy 
Fiachrach, and the same story is told in the Dinn- 
senchus. The persons concerned are all well- 
known characters, and the event is far within the 
horizon of authentic history. 

Guaire Aidhne *Ainy] was king of Connaught 
in the seventh century a king whose name has 
passed into a proverb among the Irish for his hos- 
pitality. Though a powerful and popular monarch, 
he was not the true heir to the throne ; the right- 
ful heir was a man who in his youth had aban- 
doned the world, and entered the priesthood, and 
who was now bishop of Kilmore-Moy ; this was 
Cellach, or Kellagh, the son of the last monarch, 
Owen Bel, and fourth in descent from the cele- 
brated Dathi. Cellach was murdered at the in- 
stigation of Guara, by four ecclesiastical students 
the four Maels, as they were called, because the 
names of all began with the syllable Mael who 
were under the bishop's tuition, and who, it appears 

CHAP i.] Historical Events. 1 05 

by another account, were his own foster-brothers. 
The bishop's brother, however, soon after pursued 
and captured the murderers, and brought them in 
chains to the hill overlooking the Moy, which 
was up to that time called Tulach-na-faircsiona 
[Tullanafarkshina], the hill of the prospect, where 
he hanged them all ; and from this circumstance 
the place took the name of Ard-na-riaghadh [Ard- 
narea], the hill of the executions. 

They were buried at the other side of the river, 
a little south of the present town of Ballina, and 
the place was called Ard-na-Mael, the hill of the 
(four) Maels. The monument erected over them 
remains to this day ; it is a cromlech, well known 
to the people of Ballina, and now commonly called 
the Table of the Giants. The name Ard-na-Mael 
is obsolete, the origin of the cromlech is forgotten, 
and bishop Cellach and his murderers have long 
since ceased to be remembered in the traditions of 
the people. 

When we consider how prominently the Danes 
figure in our history, it appears a matter of some 
surprise that they have left so few traces of their 
presence. We possess very few structures that can 
be proved to be Danish ; and that sure mark of 
conquest, the change of local names, has occurred 
in only a very few instances : for there are little 
more than a dozen places in Ireland bearing Danish 
names at the present day, and these are nearly all 
on or near the east coast. 

Worsae (p. 71) gives a table of 1373 Danish and 
Norwegian names in the middle and northern 
counties of England, ending in thorpe, by, thwaite, 
with, toft, beck, nces, ey, dale, force, fell, tarn, and 
haugh. We have only a few Danish terminations, 
&sford, which occurs four times ; ey, three times ; 
ster, three times ; and ore, which we find in one 

106 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

name, not noticed at all by Worsae ; and in contrast 
with 1373 names in one part of England, we have 
only about fifteen in Ireland, almost all confined 
to one particular district. This appears to me to 
afford a complete answer to the statement which 
we sometimes see made, that the Danes conquered 
the country, and their chiefs ruled over it as 

The truth is the Danes never, except in a few 
of the maritime towns, had any permanent settle- 
ments in Ireland, and even there their wealth was 
chiefly derived from trade and commerce, and they 
seem to have had only very seldom any territorial 
possessions. Their mission was rather to destroy 
than to build up ; wherever they settled on the 
coast, they were chiefly occupied either in preda- 
tory inroads, or in defending their fortresses against 
the neighbouring Irish ; they took no permanent 
hold on the country ; and their prominence in our 
annals is due to their fierce and dreadful ravages, 
from which scarcely any part of the country was 
free, and the constant warfare maintained for three 
hundred years between them and the natives. 

The only names I can find that are wholly or 
partly Danish are Wexford, Waterford, Carling- 
ford, Strangford (Lough), Olderfleet, Carnsore 
Point, Ireland's Eye, Lambay Island, Dalkey, 
Howth, Leixlip and Oxmantown ; to these may be 
added the Lax- weir on the Shannon, the termi- 
nation ster in the names of three of the provinces, 
the second syllables of such names as Fingall and 
Donegal ; probably Wicklow and Arklow, and the 
s prefixed to some names near the eastern coast 
(for which see p. 65). 

The termination ford, in the first four names is 
the well-known northern word fiord, an inlet of 
the sea. Waterford, Wexford, and Strangford 

CHAP. T.] Historical Events. 107 

are probably altogether Danish ; the first two are 
called respectively by early English writers Vadre> 
fiord and Weisford. The Danes had a settlement 
somewhere near the shore of Strangf ord Lough, in 
the ninth and tenth centuries ; and the Galls of 
Lough Cuan (its ancient and present Irish name) are 
frequently referred to in our Annals. It was 
these who gave it the very appropriate name of 
Strangf ord, which means strong fiord, from the 
well-known tidal currents at the entrance, which 
render its navigation so dangerous. 

The usual Irish name of Carlingford, as we 
find it in our Annals, is Cairlinn ; so that the full 
name, as it now stands, signifies the fiord of 
Cairlinn. In O'Clery's Calendar it is called 
Snamh-ech, the swimming- ford of the horses; 
while in " "Wars of GG," and several other autho- 
rities, it is called Snamh-Aighnech. 

The last syllable of the name of Olderfleet 
Castle, which stands on the little neck of land 
called the Curran, near Larne in Antrim, is a 
corruption of the same word fiord ; and the name 
was originally applied, not to the castle, but to 
the harbour. One of the oldest known forms of 
the name is Wulfrichf ord ; and the manner in 
which it gradually settled down to " Olderfleet " 
will be seen in the following forms, found in 
various records : Wulvricheford, Wokingis- 
f yrth, "Wolderf rith, Wolverflete, Ulderfleet, Older- 
fleet. It is probable, as Dr. Reeves remarks, that 
in the first part of all these, is disguised the 
ancient Irish name of the Larne water, viz., 
Ollorbha [Ollarva] ; and that the various forms 
given above were only imperfect attempts at re- 
presenting the sound of Ollarva-fiord. 

Carnsore Point in Wexford is known in Irish 
by the simple name Cam, i. e. a monumental heap. 

108 Histo rical and Legendary Names. PART n. 

The meaning of the termination will be rendered 
obvious by the following passage from Wbrsae : 
" On the extremity of the tongue of land which 
borders on the north the entrance of the Humber, 
there formerly stood a castle called Ravensore, 
raven's point. Ore is, as is well known, the old 
Scandinavian name for the sandy point of a pro- 
montory" (p. 65). The ore in Carnsore, is evi- 
dently the same word, and the name written in 
full would be Cam's ore, the " ore " or sandy 
point of the Carn. 

Ptolemy calls this cape Hieron Akron, i. e. the 
Sacred Promontory; and Camden (Britannia," 
Ed. 1594, p. 659), in stating this fact, says he has 
no doubt but that the native Irish name bore the 
same meaning. This conjecture is probably well 
founded, though I cannot find any name now ex- 
isting near the place with this signification. 
Camden, however, in order to show the reasonable- 
ness of his opinion, states that Bannow, the name 
of a town nearly twenty miles from it, where the 
English made their first descent, signifies sacred 
in the Irish language. The Irish participle bean- 
naighte [bannihe] means blessed, and this is 
obviously the word Camden had in view ; but it 
has no connection in meaning with Bannow. The 
harbour where Robert Fitzstephen landed was 
called in Irish Cuan-an-bhainbh (O'Flaherty, lar 
Connaught) the harbour of the bonnwe or sucking 
pig ; and the town has preserved the latter part of 
the name changed to Bannow. 

"It is doubtful whether Wicklow derives its 
name from the Norwegians, though it is not im- 
probable that it did, as in old documents it is called 
Wykynglo, Wygyngelo, and Wykinlo, which re- 
mind us of the Scandinavian vig, a bay, or Viking " 
(Worsae, p. 325). Its Irish name is Kilmantan, 

CHAP, i.] Historical Events. 109 

St. Mantan's church. This saint, according , to 
Mac Geoghegan (Annals of Clonmacnoise), and 
other authorities, was one of St. Patrick's com- 
panions, who had his front teeth knocked out by 
a blow of a stone from one of the barbarians who 
opposed the saint's landing in Wicklow ; hence he 
was called Mantan, or the toothless, and the 
church which was afterwards erected there was 
called after him, Cill-Mantain (Four Mast.) . It is 
worthy of remark that the word mantach [moun- 
thagh] derived from mant, the gum is still 
used in the South of Ireland to denote a person 
who has lost the front teeth. 

Leixlip is wholly a Danish name, old Norse 
Laxhlaup, i. e. salmon leap : this name (which is 
probably a translation from the Irish) is derived 
from the well known cataract on the Liffey, still 
called the Salmon Leap, a little above the village. 
Giraldus Cambrensis (Top. Hib. II., 41), after 
speaking of the fish leaping up the cataract, 
says: "Hence the place derives its name of 
Saltus Salmonis (Salmon Leap)." From this word 
salt, a leap, the baronies of Salt in the county 
Kildare, have taken their name. According to 
Worsae, the word lax, a salmon, is very common 
in the local names of Scotland, and we have 
another example of it in the Lax-weir, i. e. Salmon 
weir on the Shannon, near Limerick. 

The original name of Ireland's eye was Inis- 
Ereann ; it is so called in Dinnsenchus, and the 
meaning of the name is, the island of Eire or 
Eria, who, according to the same authority, was 
a woman. It was afterwards called Inis-mac- 
Nessan (Four Mast.), from the three sons of 
Nessan, a prince of the royal family of Leinster, 
namely, Dicholla, Munissa, and Nadsluagh, who 
erected a church on it in the seventh century, the 

110 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

ruins of which remain to this day. They are 
commemorated in O'Clery's Calendar, in the 
following words : " The three sons of Nesan, of 
Inis Faithlenn, i. e. Muinissa, Nesslugh, and Dui- 
choill Derg ; " from which it appears that Inis 
Faithlenn, or, as it would be now pronounced, 
Innisfallen, was another ancient name for the 
island ; this is also the name of a celebrated island 
in the lower lake of Killarney (Inis Faithlenn, 
Book of Leinster) ; and in both cases it signifies 
the Island of Fathlenn, a man's name, formerly of 
common occurrence. 

The present name, Ireland's Eye, is an at- 
tempted translation of Inis-Ereann, for the trans- 
lators understood Ereann to be the genitive case 
of Eire, Ireland, as it has the same form ; accord- 
ingly they made it Ireland's Ey (Ireland's island, 
instead of Eria's island), which in modern times 
has been corrupted to Ireland's Eye. Even Ussher 
was deceived by this, for he calls the island 
Oculus HibernicB. The name of this little island 
has met with the fate of the Highlander's ances- 
tral knife, which at one time had its haft renewed, 
and at another time its blade : one set of people 
converted the name of Eire, a woman, to Ireland, 
but correctly translated Inis to ey ; the succeeding 
generations accepted what the others corrupted, 
and corrupted the correct part; between both, 
not a vestige of the ancient name remains in the 

Eire or Eri was formerly very common in this 
country as a woman's name, and we occasionally 
find it forming part of other local names ; there 
are, for instance, two places in Antrim called 
Carnearny, in each of which a woman named 
Eire must have been buried, for the Four Masters 
write the name Carn-Ereann, Eire's monumental 

CHAP, i.] Historical Events. Ill 

Lambay is merely an altered form of Lamb r ey, 
i, e. Lamb-island ; a name which no doubt origi- 
nated in the practice of sending over sheep from 
the mainland in the spring, and allowing them to 
yean on the island, and remain there, lambs and 
all, during the summer. Its ancient Irish name 
was Rechru, which is the form used by Adamnan, 
as well as in the oldest Irish documents ; but in 
later authorities it is written Eechra and Reachra. 
In the genitive and oblique cases, it is Rechrinn, 
Reachrainn, &c., as, for example, in Leabhar 
Breac: " Fothaighis Colam-cille eclats irrachraind 
oirthir Bregh," "Columkill erects a church on 
Rachra in the east of Bregia" (O'Don. Gram., p. 
155). So also in the poem on the history of the 
Picts printed from the Book of Ballymote by 
Dr. Todd (Irish Nennius, p. 127) : 

"From the south (i. e. from near the mouth of the Slaney) 

was Ulfa sent, 

After the decease of his friends ; 
In Rachra, in Bregia (In Itachrand im Breagaibh) 
He was utterly destroyed." 

Though the name Rachra, as applied to the 
island, is wholly lost, it is still preserved, though 
greatly smoothed down by the friction of long 
ages, in the name of Portraine, the parish ad- 
joining it on the mainland. In a grant to Christ 
Church, made in the year 1308, the island is called 
Rechen, and the parish to which it belonged, 
Port-rahern, which is merely an adaptation of the 
old spelling Port-Rachrann, and very well repre- 
sents its pronunciation ; in the lapse of 500 years 
Port-rahern has been worn down to Portraine 
(Reeves). The point of land there was, in old 
times, a place of embarkation for the island and 
elsewhere, and this is the tradition of the inhabi- 

112 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

tants to the present day, who still show some 
remains of the old landing-place ; hence the name 
Port-Rachrann ; the port or landing-place of 

Other islands round the coast were called Rachra 
which are now generally called Rathlin, from the 
genitive form Machrann, by a change from r to i 
(see pages 34 and 48). The use of the genitive 
for the nominative must have begun very early, 
for in the Welsh, "Brut y Tywysogion" or Chro- 
nicle of the Chieftains, we read "Ac y distrywyd 
Rechrenn," " and (the Danes) destroyed Rechrenn" 
(Todd, Wars of GGK, Introd., p. xxxii). 

The best known of these is Rathlin on the 
Antrim coast, which Ptolemy calls Rikina, and 
whose name has been modified in various ways by 
foreign and English writers ; but the natives still 
call it Raghery, which correctly represents the 
old nominative form. Ussher (Br. Ecc. Ant., c. 
17) says : " our Irish antiquaries call this island 
Ro-chrinne," and he states further, that it was so 
called from the great quantity of trees with which 
it was formerly covered. The island, however, 
was never called Rochrinne, but Rachra, in which 
no n appears, which puts out of the question its 
derivation from crann a tree. 

Dalkey is called in Irish, Delginis (O'Cl. Cal., 
Four Masters, &c.), thorn island. The Danes 
who had a fortress on it in the tenth century, 
called it Dalk-ei, which has the same meaning as 
the Irish name, for the Danish word dalk signifies 
a thorn: the present name Dalkey is not much 
changed from Delginis, but the I, which is now 
silent, was formerly pronounced. It is curious 
that there has been a fortress on this island from 
the remotest antiquity to the present day. Our 
early chronicles record that Seadhgha [sha], one 

CHAP, i.] Historical Events. 113 

of the chiefs of the Milesian colony, erected the 
Dun of Delginis ; this was succeeded by * the 
Danish fort ; and it is now occupied by a martello 

Oxmantown or Ostmantown, now a part of the 
city of Dublin, was so called because the Danes 
or Ostmen (i. e. eastmen) built there a town of 
their own, and fortified it with ditches and walls. 

According to Worsae (p. 230), the termination 
ster in the names of three of the provinces is the 
Scandinavian stadr, a place, which has been added 
to the old Irish names. Leinster is the place (or 
province) of Laighen or Layn; Ulster is con- 
tracted from Ula-ster, the Irish name Uladh being 
pronounced Ulla ; and Munster from Moon-ster, 
or Mounster (which is the form found in a State 
paper of 1515), the first syllable representing the 
pronunciation of the Irish Humhan. 

Many of the acts of our early apostles are pre- 
served in imperishable remembrance, in the names 
of localities where certain remarkable transactions 
took place, connected with their efforts to spread 
the Gospel. Of these I will give a few examples, 
but I shall defer to another chapter the considera- 
tion of those places which commemorate the 
names of saints. 

Saul, the name of a village and parish near 
Downpatrick, preserves the memory of St. Patrick's 
first triumph in the work of conversion. Dichu, 
the prince of the district, who hospitably enter- 
tained the saint and his companions, was his first 
convert in Ireland ; and the chief made him a 
present of his barn, to be used temporarily as a 
church. On the site of this barn a church was 
subsequently erected, and as its direction hap- 
pened to be north and south, the church was also 
placed north and south, instead of the usual direc- 
VOL. i, 

114 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

tion, east and west. On this transaction the 
following are Ussher's words: "Which place, 
from the name of that church, is called in Scotic 
to this day, Sabhatt Patrick ; in Latin, Zabulum 
Patricii vel Horreum Patricii" (Patrick's barn). 
It is still called in Irish Sabhall, which is fairly 
represented in pronunciation by the modern form 

It is highly probable that several churches 
were erected in other districts, in imitation of St. 
Patrick's primitive and favourite church at Saul, 
which were also placed north and south, and 
called by the same name. We know that among 
the churches of Armagh, one, founded probably 
by the saint himself, was in this direction, and 
called by the same name, Sabhall, though this 
name is now lost. And it is not unlikely that a 
church of this kind gave name to Saval, near 
Newry, to Drumsaul in the parish of Ematris, 
county Monaghan, and to Sawel, a lofty mountain 
in the north of Tyrone. This supposition super- 
sedes the far-fetched explanation of the last name, 
given in the neighbourhood, which for several 
reasons I have no hesitation in pronouncing a 
very modern fabrication. 

Very similar in the circumstances attending its 
origin is the name of Elphin, in the county Eos- 
common. In the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick 
(Lib. II. c. 38), we are told that a noble Druid 
named Ona, lord of the ancient district of Cor- 
caghlan in Roscommon, presented his residence, 
called Emlagh-Ona (Ona's marsh) to St. Patrick, 
as a site for a church. The church was built 
near a spring, over which stood a large stone, and 
from this the place was called Ail/inn, which Colgan 
interprets "the rock of the clear spring;" the 
stone is now gone, but it remained standing in its 

CHAP, i.] Historical Events. 115 

original position until forty or fifty years ago. 
The townland of Emlagh, near Elphin, still'pre- 
serves the name of Ona's ancient residence. 

The manner in which St. Brigid's celebrated 
establishment was founded is stereotyped in the 
name of Kildare. According to a tale in the 
Book of Leinster, quoted by O'Curry (Lectures, 
p. 487), the place was called Druim-Criaidh 
[Drumcree] before the time of St. Brigid ; and it 
received its present name from "a goodly fair 
oke " under the shadow of which the saint con- 
structed her little cell. 

The origin and meaning of the name are very 
clearly set forth in the following words of Ani- 
mosus, the writer of the fourth Life of St. Brigid, 
published by Colgan : " That cell is called . in 
Scotic, Cill-dara, which in Latin sounds Cella- 
quercus (the church of the oak) . For a very high oak 
stood there, which Brigid loved much, and blessed 
it ; of which the trunk still remains, (i. e. up to the 
close of the tenth century, when Animosus wrote) ; 
and no one dares cut it with a weapon." Bishop 
Ultan, the writer of the third Life, gives a similar 
interpretation, viz., Cetta roboris. 

If we may judge by the number of places whose 
names indicate battle scenes, slaughters, murders, 
&c., our ancestors must have been a quarrelsome 
race, and must have led an unquiet existence. 
Names of this kind are found in every county in 
Ireland ; and various terms are employed to com- 
memorate the events. Moreover, in most of these 
places, traditions worthy of being preserved, re- 
garding the occurrences that gave origin to the 
names, still linger among the peasantry. 

The word cath [cah] signifies a battle, and its 
presence in many names points out, with all the 
certainty of history, the scenes of former strife 

116 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

"We see it in Ardcath in Heath, and Mullycagh in 
Wicklow, both signif ying battle height ; in Doon- 
caha in Kerry and Limerick, the fort of the battle ; 
Derrycaw and Derryhaw, battlewood, in Armagh ; 
and Drumnagah in Clare, the ridge of the battles. 

One party must have been utterly defeated, 
where we find such names as Ballynarooga (in 
Limerick), the town of the defeat or rout (mag) 
Greaghnaroog near Carrickmacross, and Maulna- 
rouga in Cork, the marshy flat and the hillock 
of the rout ; Rinnarogue in Sligo, and Bingarogy, 
the name of an island near Baltimore, on the 
south coast of Cork, both signifying the rinn or 
point of the defeat. And how vivid a picture 
of the hideousness of a battle-field is conveyed by 
the following names : Heenagorp in Tyrone, in 
Irish Min-na-gcorp, the mountain flat of the 
corpses ; Kilnamarve near Carrigallen, Leitrim, 
the wood of the dead bodies (Coill-na-marbh) ; 
Ballinamara in Kilkenny, the town of the dead 
(Bai!e-na-marbJi) , where the tradition of the battle 
is still remembered ; Lisnafulla near Newcastle in 
Limerick, the fort of the blood ; Onamhchoill 
[knawhill] (Book of Leinster), a celebrated place 
near the town of Tipperary, now called Cleghile 
(by a change of n to I see p. 49), whose name 
signifies the wood of bones : the same Irish name 
is more correctly anglicised Knawhill in the pa- 
rish of Knooktemple, Cork. 

Many of these sanguinary encounters, in which 
probably whole armies were almost annihilated, 
though lost to history, are recorded with perfect 
clearness in names like the following, numbers of 
which are found all over the country : Glenanair, 
a fine valley near the boundary of Limerick and 
Cork, five miles south of Kilfinane, the glen of 
slaughter, where the people still preserve a vivid 

CHAP, i.j Historical Events. 117 

tradition of a dreadful battle fought at a *'ord 
over the river; and with the same root word (ar, 
slaughter), Drumar near Ballybay in Monaghan, 
Glashare, a parish in Kilkenny, the ridge, and 
the streamlet of slaughter; and Coumanare (Coum 
a hollow), in the parish of Ballyduff, a few miles 
from Dingle in Kerry, where numbers of arrow 
heads have been found, showing the truthfulness 
of the name ; which is also corroborated by a local 
tradition of a great battle fought in the valley. 
In Cork they have a tradition that a great and 
bloody fight took place at some distant time on 
the banks of the little river Ownanare (river 01 
slaughter), which joins the Dalua one mile above 

The murder of any near relative is termed in 
Irish fionghal [finnal] which is often translated 
fratricide ; and the frequent occurrence of names 
containing this word, while affording undeniable 
avidence of the commission of the crime, demon- 
strates at the same time the horror with which it 
was regarded by the people. We have, for in- 
stance, Lisnafinelly in Monaghan, and Lisfennell 
in Waterf ord, where in both cases the victim met 
his doom in one of the lonely forts so common 
through the country; Cloonnafinneela near Kilnyn 
in Kerry (cloon a meadow) ; Tattanafinnell near 
Clogher in Tyrone, the field (tate) of the fratri- 
cide ; Drumnafinnila in Leitrim, and Drumnafin- 
nagle near Kilcar in Donegal, the ridge of the 
fratricide, in the last of which places there is a 
vivid tradition accounting for the name: that 
one time long ago, the clan of Mac Gilla Carr 
(now called Carr), fell out among themselves, and 
slaughtered each other almost to annihilation 
(" Donegal Cliff Scenery" by "Kinnfaela," pp 
60, 61). And occasionally the murdered man's 

118 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

name is commemorated by being interwoven with 
the name of the spot, as may be seen in Gortmar- 
rahafineen, near Kenmare in Kerry, which repre- 
sents the Irish Gort-marbhtha-Finghin, the field of 
Fineen's murder. A name of this kind is recorded 
in the annals of Lough Key (II., 368), viz., 
Ath-Marbhtha-Cathail, the ford of the killing of 
Cathal, which in the anglicised form Aghawara- 
cahill, is now the name of a townland in the 
parish of Kilmore in Roscommon, south of the 
village of Drumsna. But no one knows who this 
unfortunate Cathal was. "We have also in the 
parish of Clones in Fermanagh, Cornamramurry, 
the round hill of the dead woman Cor-na-mna- 
mairbhe (bean, a woman ; genitive mna). 

In "A Tour through Ireland, by two English 
Gentlemen" (Dublin, 1748), we read : " The 
poorer sort of Irish Natives are mostly Roman 
Catholicks, who make no scruple to assemble in 
the open Fields. As we passed Yesterday in a 
Bye-road, we saw a Priest under a Tree, with a 
large Assembly about him, celebrating Mass in 
his proper Habit; and, though at a great Distance 
from us, we heard him distinctly. These sort of 
People, my Lord, seem to be very solemn and 
sincere in their devotion" (p. 163). 

The Irish practice of celebrating Mass in the 
open air appears to be very ancient. It was more 
general, however, during the period preceding the 
above tour than at other times, partly because 
there were in many places no chapels, and partly 
because, during the operation of the penal laws, 
the celebration of Mass was declared illegal. And 
the knowledge of this, if we be wise enough to 
turn it to right account, may have its use, by 
reminding us of the time in which our lot is cast, 
the people have their chapel in every parish, 

CHAP, i.] Historical Events. 119 

and those prohibitory enactments are made mere 
matters of history, by wise and kind legislation. 

Even in our own day we may witness the cele- 
bration of Mass in the open air ; for many will 
remember the vast crowds that congregated on 
the summit of Brandon hill in Kerry, on the 28th 
of June, 1868, to honour the memory of St. 
Brendan. The spots consecrated by the celebra- 
tion of the sacred mysteries are at this day well 
known, and greatly revered by the people ; and 
many of them bear names formed from the word 
Aiffrlon (affrin), the Mass, that will identify them 
to all future time. 

Places of this kind are found all over Ireland, 
and many of them have given names to townlands; 
and it may be further observed that the existence, 
of such a name in any particular locality indi- 
cates that the custom of celebrating Mass there 
must have continued for a considerable time. 

Sometimes the lonely side of a hill was chosen, 
and the people remember well, and will point out 
to the visitor, the very spot on which the priest 
stood, while the crowd of peasants worshipped 
below. One of these hills is in the parish of 
Kilmore, county Roscommon, and it has left its 
name on the townland of Ardanaffrin, the height 
of the Mass ; another in the parish of Donagh- 
tnore, county Donegal, called Corraffrin (cor, a 
round hill) ; a third in the parish of Kilcommon. 
Mayo, namely, Drumanaff rin ; a fourth in CavaiL 
MullanafErin (mullach, a summit) ; and still ano 
ther, Knockanaffrin, in Waterford, one of the 
highest hills of the Cummeragh range. 

Sometimes, again, the people selected secluded 
dells and mountain gorges ; such as Clashanaffrin 
in the parish of Desertmore, county of Cork 
(clash, a trench or fosse), and Lugganaffrin in the 

120 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

county of Galway, the hollow of the Mass. And 
occasionally they took advantage of the ancient 
forts of their pagan ancestors, places for ages 
associated with fairy superstitions; and while 
they worshipped they were screened from observa- 
tion by the circumvallations of the old fortress. 
The old palace of Greenan-Ely near Londonderry 
was so used ; and there is a fort in the townland 
of Rahanane, parish of Kilcummin in Kerry, 
which still bears the name of Lissanaffrin, the 
fort of the Mass. 

Many other names of like formation are to be 
met with, such as Glenanaffrin, Carriganaffrin, 
Lough Anaffrin, &c. Occasionally the name re- 
cords the simple fact that Mass was celebrated, as 
we find in a place called Effrinagh, in the parish 
of Kiltoghert, Leitrim, a name which signifies 
simply " a place for Mass." And sometimes a 
translated name occurs of the same class, such as 
Mass-brook in the parish of Addergoole, Mayo, 
which is a translation of the Irish Sruthan-an- 

There are other words also, besides Affrin, 
which are used to commemorate these Masses; 
such as altoir, an altar, which gives name to a 
townland, now called Altore, in the parish of 
Kiltullagh, B/oscommon ; and to another named 
Oltore, in the parish of Donaghpatrick, Galway. 
There is also a place called "Altore cross-roads," 
near Inchigeelagh, Cork ; and we find Carrow- 
. naltore (the quarter land of the altar) in the 
parish of Aglish Mayo. 

CHAP, ii.] Historical Personages. 121 



OUR annals generally set forth with great care the 
genealogy of the most remarkable men kings, 
chieftains, or saints who flourished at the different 
periods of our history ; and even their character 
and their personal peculiarities are very often 
given with much minuteness. These annals and 
genealogies, which are only now beginning to be 
known and studied as they deserve, when examined 
by the internal evidence of mutual comparison, 
are found to exhibit a marvellous consistency; 
and this testimony of their general truthfulness is 
fully corroborated by the few glimpses we obtain 
of detached points in the long record, through the 
writings of English and foreign historians, as well 
as by the still severer test of verifying our fre- 
quent records of natural occurrences. 

Nor are these the only testimonies. Local 
names often afford the most unsuspicious and 
satisfactory evidences of the truth of historical 
records, and I may refer to the preceding chapter 
for instances. It is with men as with events. 
Many of the characters who figure conspicuously 
in our annals have left their names engraven in 
the topography of the country, and the illustration 
of this by some of the most remarkable examples 
will form the subject of the present chapter. 

Before entering on this part of the subject, it 
will be necessary to make a few remarks on the 
origin of the names of our ancient tribes and 
territories, and to explain certain terms that are 
often used in their formation. 

122 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

" It is now universally admitted that the ancient 
names of tribes in Ireland were not derived from 
the territories they inhabited, but from certain of 
their distinguished ancestors. In nine cases out 
of ten, names of territories and of the tribes in- 
habiting them are identical "* (the former being 
derived from the latter). The names of tribes 
were formed from those of their ancestors, by 
prefixing certain words or postfixing others, the 
most important of which are the following : 

Cinel [kinel], kindred, race, descendants ; Cinel- 
Aedha [Kinelea : O'Heeren], the race of Aedh 
[Ay] or Hugh, a tribe descended from Aedh 
(father of Failbhe Flann, king of Munster, in 
A. D. 636), who were settled in the county Cork, 
and gave name to the barony of Kinalea. Kinelarty 
a barony in Down, Cinel-Fhaghartaigh (Four 
Mast.), the race of Fagartagh, one of the ances- 
tors of the Mac Artans. 

Clann, children, descendants, race; in the 
Zeuss MS. it is given as the equivalent of progenies. 
The barony of Clankee in Cavan derives its name 
from a tribe who are called in Irish Clann-an- 
Chaoich [Clanankee: Four Mast.], the descend- 
ants of the one-eyed man ; and they derived this 
cognomen from Niall Caoch O'Reilly (caoch [kee], 
i.e. one-eyed, Lat. ccecus), who was slain in 1256. 
The baronies of Clanwilliam in Limerick and 
Tipperary, from the clann or descendants of Wil- 
liam Burke ; Clanmaurice, a barony in Kerry, so 
called from the Fitzmaurices, the descendants of 
Maurice Fitzgerald. Besides several historic 
districts, this word gives name to some ordinary 
townlands ; such as Clananeese Glebe in Tyrone, 

* From O'Donovan's Introduction to the "Topographical 
Poems of O'Dugan and O'Heeren," where the reader will 
find a valuable essay on tribe and family names. 

OHAP. IT.] Historical Personages. 123 

from the race of Aengus or .^Eneas ; Clanhugh 
Demesne in Westmeath, the descendants of Aedh 
or Hugh. 

Core, corca, race, progeny. Corcomohide, the 
name of a parish in Limerick, is written in Irish 
Corca-Muichet (Book of Lismore), the race of 
Muichet, who in the " Forbais Dromadamhghaire" 
are stated to have been descended from Muichet, 
one of Mogh Ruith's disciples (see p. 102, supra). 

Muintir, family, people; Muntermellan and 
Munterneese in Donegal, the family of Miallan 
and Aengus ; Munterowen in Galway, the family 
of Eoghan or Owen ; Munterloney, now the name 
of a range of mountains in Tyrone, from the 
family of O'Luinigh or O'Looney, who were chiefs 
of the surrounding district. 

Siol [shiel], seed, progeny. Shillelagh, now a 
barony in Wicklow, was so called from the tribe 
of Siol-Elaigh (O'Heeren), the descendants of 
Elach : this district was formerly much celebrated 
for its oak-woods, a fact that has given origin to 
the well-known word shillelagh as a term for an 
oak stick. Shelburne in "Wexford, from the tribe 
of Siol-Brain (O'Heeren), the progeny of Bran ; 
Shelmaliere in the same county, the descendants 
of Maliere or Maelughra. 

Tealach [tellagh], family. The barony of 
Tullyhaw in Cavan was so called from the 
Magaurans, its ancient proprietors, whose tribe 
name was Tealach- Echach (O'Dugan), i.e. the 
family of Eochy. 

Ua signifies a grandson, and, by an extension 
of meaning, any descendant : it is often written 
hua by Latin and English writers, and still oftener 
0, which is the common prefix in Irish family 
names. In Scotland they still retain it ; for among 
speakers of English they call a grandson oe. The 

124 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

nominative plural is ui [ee : often written in Latin 
and English, hui or hy], which is applied to a 
tribe, and this word still exists in several 
territorial designations. Thus Offerlane, now a 
parish in Queen's County, was the name of a tribe, 
called in Irish Ui-Foircheallain [Hy Forhellane : 
Four Mast.], the descendants of Foircheallan ; 
[da, now the name of a barony in Kilkenny, 
which represents the sound of Ui-Deaghaigh, the 
descendants of Deaghadh ; Imaile, a celebrated 
district in Wickjow, Ui Mail (O'Heeren), the 
descendants of Mann Mai, brother of Cahirmore, 
king of Ireland in the second century. 

The ablative plural of ua is uibh [iv], and this 
form is also found occasionally in names (see p. 33, 
VII.). Thus Iverk, now a barony in Kilkenny, 
which O'Heeren writes Ui-Eirc (ablat. Uibh-Eirc], 
the descendants of Ere; Iveleary in Cork (the 
descendants of Laeghaire), taking its name from 
the O'Learys, its ancient proprietors ; Iveruss, 
now a parish in Limerick, from the tribe of Uibh- 

That the foregoing is the proper signification of 
this word in its three cases, we have authorities 
that preclude all dispute ; among others that of 
Adamnan, who in several passages of his Life of 
Columba, translates ua by nepos, ui by nepotes, 
and uibh by nepotibus. 

The word tuath [tua] meant originally populus 
(people), which it glosses in the Wb MS. of Zeuss ; 
but, in accordance with the custom of naming the 
territory after its inhabitants, it came ultimately 
to signify district, which is now the sense in 
which it is used. Near Sheephaven in Donegal is 
a well-known district called the Doe : its ancient 
name, as given by O'Heeren, is Tuath Bladhach ; 
but by the Four Masters and other authorities it 

CHAP, ii.] Historical Personages. 125 

is usually called Tuatha, i. e. districts. It was the 
inheritance of the Mac Sweenys, the chief of 
whom was called Mac Sweeny na dTuath, or, as 
it is pronounced and written in English, na Doe, 
i. e. of the districts ; and it is from this appellation 
that the place came to be corruptly called Doe. 

With the preceding may be enumerated the 
word Fir or Feara, men, which is often prefixed 
to the names of districts to form tribe names. 
The old tribe called Fir-tir8 (the men of the ter- 
ritory), in Wicklow, is now forgotten, except so 
far as the name is preserved in that of the river 
Yartry. The celebrated territory of Fermoy in 
Cork, which still retains its name, is called in 
Irish Feara-muig he-Feme, or more shortly, Feara- 
muighe (O'Heeren), the men of the plain. It is 
called in the Book of Rights Magh Fian, the 
second part of which was derived from the Fians 
or ancient militia (p. 91) ; and the full name 
Feara-muighe-Feine means the men of the plain of 
the Fians. 

There are also a few words which are suffixed 
to men's names, to designate the tribes descended 
from them; such as raidhe [ree], in the word 
Calraidhe. There were several tribes called 
Calraidhe or Calry (the race of Cal), who were 
descended from Lewy Cal, the grand-uncle of 
Maccon, king of Ireland in the third century. 
The names of some of these are still extant : one 
of them was settled in the ancient Teffia, whose 
name is preserved by the mountain of Slievegolry, 
near Ardagh, county Longford, Sliabh g Calraidhe, 
the mountain of the (people called) Calry. There 
is a townland called Drumhalry (Druim- Chalraidhe 
the ridge of the Calry), near Carrigallen in 
Leitrim ; and another of the same name in the 
parish of Killoe, county Longford ; which shows 

126 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

that Calry of north Teffia extended northward as 
far as these two townlands. Calry in Sligo and 
Calary in Wicklow also preserve the names of 
these tribes. 

The monarsh Hugony the Great, who reigned 
3Oon after the foundation of Emania, divided 
Ireland into twenty-five parts among his twenty- 
five children ; and this division continued for 
about three centuries after his time. Several of 
these gave names to the territories allotted to them, 
but all those designations are now obsolete, with 
a single exception. To one of his sons, Lathair 
[Laher], he gave a territory in Ulster, which was 
called from him Latharna [Laharna : Book of 
Rights], a name which exists to this day, 
shortened to Larne. Though now exclusively 
applied to the town, it was, in the time of Colgan, 
the name of a district which extended north- 
wards along the coast towards Glenarm : the 
town was then called Inver-an-Laharna, the river- 
mouth of (the territory of) Laharna, from its 
situation at the mouth of the Ollarbha, or Larne 
Water. In the Down Survey Map it is called 
" Inver alias Learne ; " and the former name is 
still retained in the adjacent parish of Inver. 

Many of the remarkable persons who flourished 
in the reign of Conor mac Nessa, king of Ulster 
in the first century, still live in local names. The 
descendants of Beann, one of Conor's sons, were 
called from him Beanntraighe [Bantry : Book of 
Rights], i. e. the race of Beann ; a part of them 
settled in Wexford, and another part in Cork, and 
ihe barony of Bantry in the former county, and the 
.own of Bantry in the latter, retain their name. 

When the three sons of Usnagh were murdered 
at the command of Conor, Fergus mac Roy, ex- 
king of Ulster, who had guaranteed their safety, 

CHAP, ii.] Historical Personages. 127 

" indignant at the violation of his safe conduct, 
retired into exile, accompanied by Cormac Con- 
lingas, son of Conor, and by three thousand 
warriors of Uladh. They received a hospitable 
welcome at Cruachan from Maev [queen of Con- 
naught], and her husband Ailill, whence they 
afterwards made many hostile incursions into 
Ulster,"* taking part in that seven years' war 
between Ulster and Connaught, so celebrated by 
our historians and romancers as the "Tain bo 
Cuailnge," the cattle spoil of Cooley (near Car- 

Fergus afterwards resided in Connaught, and 
Maev bore him three sons, Ciar [Keer], Conmac, 
and Modhruadh [Moroo], who became the heads 
of three distinguished tribes. Ciar settled in 
Munster, and his descendants possessed the terri- 
tory west of Abbeyfeale, and lying between 
Tralee and the Shannon ; they were called Ciar- 
raidhe [Kerry : Book of Rights], i. e. the race of 
Ciar, and this name was afterwards applied to the 
district ; it was often called Ciarraidhe Luachra, 
from the mountain tract of Sliabh Luachra (rushy 
mountain, now Slievelougher), east of Castle- 
island. This small territory ultimately gave the 
name of Ciarraidhe or Kerry to the entire 

The descendants of Conmac were called Con- 
maicne [Conmacne : ne, a progeny] ; they were 
settled in Connaught, where they gave their 
name to several territories. One of these, viz., 
the district lying west of Lough Corrib and Lough 
Mask, from its situation near the sea, was called, 
to distinguish it from the others, Conmaicne-mara 
^O'Dugan : muir, the sea, gen. mara), or the sea- 
side Conmaicne ; which name is still applied to the 

* From " The Irish before tlie Conquest," by Lady Ferguson. 

128 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

very-same district, in the slightly contracted and 
well-known form Connemara. 

The posterity of the third son, Modhruadh, 
were called Corca-Modhruadh, or Corcomruad (Book 
of Leinster), the race of Modhruadh ; they settled 
in the north of the county of Clare, and their ter- 
ritory included the present baronies of Burren and 
Corcomroe, the latter of which retains the old 

Another son of Fergus (not by Maev), was. 
Finn or Cufinn (fair-haired hound), from whom 
were descended the tribe of the Ddl-Confinn (ddl, a 
tribe), who afterwards took the family name of 
O'Finn. They inhabited a district in Connaught, 
which was called from them Cuil-0'bhFinn [Cool- 
ovin : Four Mast.], the corner of the O'Finns ; 
and the same name in the modernised form of 
Coolavin is still applied to the territory which now 
forma a barony in Sligo. 

When the Connaught forces under Maev marched 
to invade the territory of Conor, the task of de- 
fending the different fords they had to cross was 
allotted to Cuchullin, the great Ulster champion ; 
and the various single combats with the Con- 
naught warriors, in all of which he was victorious, 
are described with great minuteness in the heroic 
romance of " Tain bo Cuailnge." One of these 
encounters took place at a ford of the little 
river Nith (now called the Dee, in Louth), where 
afterwards grew up the town of Ardee; and 
Cuchullin's antagonist was his former friend, the 
youthful champion Ferdia, the son of Daman, of 
the Firbolgic tribe Gowanree, who inhabited Erris. 
After a long and sanguinary combat Ferdia was 
slain, and the place was ever after called Ath- 
Fhirdia [Ahirdee: Leabhar na hUidhre], Fer- 
dia's ford. The present form Ardee is a very 

CHAP, ii.] Historical Personages. 129 

modern contraction ; by early English writers it 
is generally called Atherdee, as by Boate (Chap. 
i., Sect, vi.), which preserves, with little change, 
the original Irish pronunciation. 

In the reign of Felimy the Lawgiver (A. D. 
Ill to 119), the men of Munster seized on Ossory, 
and all the Leinster territories, as far as Mullagh- 
mast. They were ultimately expelled, after a 
series of battles, by an Ulster chief, Lughaidh 
Laeighseach [Lewy Leeshagh], son of Laeigh- 
seach Canvore, son of the renowned Conall Cear- 
nach, chief of the Red Branch Knights of Ulster 
in the first century (see p. 91). For this service 
the king of Leinster granted Lewy a territory in 
the present Queen's County ; and as his descen- 
dants, the O'Moores, were called from him by the 
tribe name Laeighis [Leesh], their territory took 
the same name, which in English is commonly 
written Leix a district that figures conspicuously 
in Irish and Anglo-Irish Chronicles. 

The name of this principality has altogether 
disappeared from modern maps, except so far as it 
is preserved in that of the town of Abbeyleix, 
i. e. the abbey of the territory of Leix, which it 
received from a monastery founded there in 1183 
by Conor O'Moore. 

The first battle between the Munstermen and 
the forces of Lewy was fought at Ath- Truisden, a 
ford on the river Greece, near Mullaghmast, and 
the former retreated to the Barrow, where at 
another ford there was a second battle, in which a 
Munster chief, Ae, the foster-father of Ohy Finn 
Fohart (p. 131), was slain; and from him the 
place was called Aih-I (wars of GGK), the ford of 
Ae, now correctly anglicised Athy. 

From Fiacha Raidhe [Ree], grandson of king 
Felimy, descended the tribe named Corcn-Raeidhe 
VOL. i. 10 

130 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

(O'Dugan), whose name is still borne by the 
barony of Corkaree in "Westmeath, their ancient 
patrimony. This territory is mentioned by Adam- 
nan (Lib. I. cap. 47), who calls it Korkureti ; and 
in the Book of Armagh the name is translated 
Regionez Moide, i. e. the territories of Raidhe or 

The fanciful creations of the ancient Irish story- 
tellers have thrown a halo of romance round the 
names of many of the preceding personages ; never- 
theless I have treated of them in the present 
chapter, because I believe them to be historical. 
As we descend from those dim regions of extreme 
antiquity, the view becomes clearer, and the cha- 
racters that follow may, with few exceptions be 
considered as standing out in full historical dis- 

Cahirmore was monarch of Ireland from A. D. 
120 to 123 ; he is well known in connection 
with the document called the "Will of Cahir- 
more," which has been translated and published 
by O'Donovan in the Book of Rights. According 
to our genealogical writers (see O'Flaherty's 
Ogygia, Part III. c. 59 ), he had thirty sons, but 
only ten are mentioned in the Will, two of whom 
are commemorated in well-known modern names. 

His eldest son was Ros-failghe [faly], i. e. Ros 
of the rings (fdill, a ring, pi. fdilghe), whom the 
monarch addresses as " my fierce Ros, my vehe- 
ment Failghe." His descendants were called Hy 
Failghe (O'Dugan), i. e. the descendants of Failghe; 
they possessed a large territory in Kildare and in 
King's and Queen's Counties, to which they gave 
their tribe name ; and it still exists in the form of 
Offaly, which is now applied to two baronies in 
Kildare, forming a portion of their ancient in- 
heritance. Another son, Ceatach, also named in 

CHAP, ii.] Historical Personages. 131 

the Will, was probably the progenitor of the tribe 
that gave name to the barony of Ikeathy, in 
Kildare Hy Ceataigh, the race of Ceatach. Others 
of Cahirmore's sons were the ancestors of tribes 
but their names have been long extinct. 

The barony of Idrone in Carlow, perpetuates 
the memory of the tribe of Hy Drona (Book of 
Rights), who formerly possessed this territory, 
and whose family name was O'Ryan ; their ances- 
tor, from whom they derived their tribe name, was 
Drona, fourth in descent from Cahirmore. 

The county Fermanagh was so called from the 
tribe of the Fir-Monach (O'Dugan), the men of 
Monach, who were originally a Leinster tribe, so 
named from their ancestor Monach, fifth in descent 
from Cahirmore, by his son Daire Barrack. They 
had to fly from Leinster in consequence of having 
killed Enna, the son of the king of that province ; 
one part of them was located in the county of 
Down, where the name is extinct ; another part 
settled on the shore of Lough Erne, where they 
acquired a territory extending over the entire 
county Fermanagh. Enna Kinsellagh, king of 
Leinster in the end of the fourth century, was 
fourth in descent from Cahinnore. He had a son 
named Felimy, from whom descended the sept of 
Hy Felimy (Four Mast.) ; one branch of them 
settled in the county Carlow, and their name is 
still preserved in that of the parish of Tullow- 
Offelimy, or Tullowphelim (which was also applied 
to the town of Tullow) i. e. the tulach or hill of the 
territory of Hy Felimy ', which included this parish. 

Cahirmore was slain by the celebrated Conn of 
the Hundred Battles, who ascended the throne in 
A. D. 123. After a reign of thirty-five years, 
Conn's two brothers, Fiacha and Eochy Fine 
Fothart, betrayed him into the hands of Tibraide 

132 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART IT. 

Tireach, king of Ulster, who murdered him as he 
was making preparations to celebrate the Feis or 
convention of Tara. 

Conary II., his successor (from A.D. 212 to 
220), had three sons the three Carberys who 
are renowned in Irish History ; Carbery Muse, 
Carbery Baskin, and Carbery Riada. From Car- 
bery Muse were descended and named all the 
tribes called Muscraidhe [Muskerry: O'Heerin], 
i. e. the race of Muse ; of which, according to 
O'Heerin, there were six, all in Munster. The 
names of all these have recently disappeared 
except that of one, Muscraidhe Mitaine, or Mus- 
craidhe O'Flynn, which now forms the two baronies 
of Muskerry in Cork. From Carbery Baskin was 
named the ancient territory of Corcobaskin in the 
south-west of Clare, but the name has become 
obsolete. Carbery Riada was the most celebrated 
of the three, for whom see page 87. Carbery 
Muse had a son named Duibhne [Divne], whose 
descendants gave name to the district of Corca- 
Duibhne (O'Heerin), i. e. Duibhne's race ; and a 
portion of this territory still retains the name, 
though somewhat corrupted, viz., the barony of 
Corkaguiny (dh changed to g ; p. 56), in Kerry, 
which comprises the peninsula between Tralee and 
Dingle bays. 

Art, the son of Con of the Hundred Battles, 
succeeded Conary, and immediately on his acces- 
sion he banished his uncle, Ohy Finn Fothart 
[Fohart], from Munster. Ohy proceeded to Lein- 
ster, and the king of that province bestowed on 
him and his sons certain districts, the inhabitants 
of which were afterwards called Fotharta [Fo- 
harta : Book of Rights] . from their ancestor. Of 
these, the two principal still retain the name, viz., 
the baronies of Forth in Wexford and Carlow ; 

CHAP, ii.] Historical Personages. 133 

the former called in the Annals, for distinction, 
Fotharta of the Cam, i. e. of Carnsore Point ; and 
the latter, Fotharta Fea, from the plain anciently 
called Moy Fea, lying east of the town of Carlow. 

After Art, the son of Con, had reigned thirty 
years, he was slain in the year 195, in the battle 
of Magh Mucruimhe [Muckrive] near Athenry, by 
Lewy Maccon and his followers. It is stated in 
the " History of the Cemeteries " in Leabhar na 
hUidhre, that Art believed in the Faith the day 
before the battle, and predicted the spread of 
Christianity. It would appear also that he had 
some presentiment of his death; for he directed 
that he should not be buried at Brugh on the 
Boyne, the pagan cemetery of his forefathers, but . 
at a place then called Dumha Dergluachra (the 
burial-ground of the red rushy-place), "where 
Treoit is at this day " (Trevet in the county Meath). 
" When his body was afterwards carried eastwards 
to Dumha Dergluachra, if all the men of Erin were 
drawing it thence, they could not, so that he was in- 
terred at that place, because there was a Catholic 
church to be afterwards at the place where he was 
interred, for the truth and the Faith had been re- 
vealed to him through his regal righteousness" 
'Hist, of Cemeteries; seePetrie's R. Towers, p. 100). 

In the historical tale called "The Battle of 
Magh Mucruimhe" it is stated that, when Art was 
buried, three sods were dug in honour of the 
Trinity ; and that hence the place, from that time 
forward, got the name of Tre-foit (O'Clery's Cal., 
&c.), i. e. three fods or sods, which is very little 
changed in the present name Trevet. 

The celebrated Mogh Nuadhat [Mo Nuat], or 
Owen More, was king of Munster during the 
reign of Con of the Hundred Battles; he con- 
tended with that monarch for the sovereignty of 

131 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART li. 

all Ireland, and after defeating him in ten battles, 
he obliged him to divide the country equally 
between them the well-known ridge of sand 
hills called Esker Riada, extending from Dublin 
to Galway, being adopted as the boundary. From 
Owen descended a long line of kings, and he was 
the ancestor of the most distinguished of the great 
Munster families. 

He spent nine years in Spain, and the king oJ 
that country gave him his daughter Beara in 
marriage : on his return to Ireland, accompanied 
by Spanish auxiliaries, to make war against Conn, 
he landed on the north side of Bantry bay, and he 
called the harbour Beara in honour of his wife. 
It is now called Bearhaven ; the island that shel- 
ters it is called Great Bear Island ; and the 
barony is also known by the name of Bear. 

Owen derived his alias name of Mogh Nuadhat 
(which signifies Nuadhat's slave) from his fostei 
father Nuadhat, king of Leinster. From this 
king, acording to O'Donovan (Cambr. Evers., 
note, f\. 473, Yol. I.), Maynooth derives its 
name : Ma gh- Nuadhat, i. e. Nuat's plain. 

Olioll Olum, the son of Owen, succeeded him 
as king of Munster, and was almost as renowned 
as his father ; he is usually taken as the starting- 
point in tracing the genealogies of the Munster 
families. Three of his sons Owen, Cormac Cas, 
and Cian [Kean] became very much celebrated. 

In the year 226 was fought the battle of Crinna 
in Meath, between Cormac mac Art, king of Ire- 
land, and the TJlstermen, under Fergus, son of 
Imchadh ; Cormac defeated, the Ulster forces, by 
the assistance of Tadg [Teige], son of Cian; and 
for this service the king bestowed on him a large 
territory, extending ?rom the Liffey northwards to 
Drumiskin. in Louth. Tads's descendants were 

CHAP, ii.] Historical Personages. 135 

called Cianachta [Keenaghta : O'Dugan], i. e. the 
race of Cian, from his father ; and the territory 
was afterwards known by this name. It is for- 
gotten in Leinster, but in Ulster it is still the 
name of a barony in the north-west of London- 
derry, called Keenaght, from the O'Coaors of 
Glengiven, who formerly ruled over it, and who 
were a branch of the tribe of Keenaghta, having 
been descended from Connla the son of Tadg. 
The name is also preserved in Coolkeenaght, in 
the parish of Faughanvale, Deny ; Cuaitte- Cian- 
achta (Four Mast.), the bare tree or pole of 

The barony of Ferrard in Louth indirectly keeps 
up the memory of this ancient tribe. The range . 
of heights called Slieve JBregh, running from 
near Collon in Louth, eastwards to Clogher Head, 
was anciently called Ard- Cianachta (Four Mast. ; 
Ard-Ceanachte, Adamuan), the height of the 
territory of Keenaght, and the inhabitants were 
called Feara-Arda-C'ianachta, or more shortly, 
Feara-Arda (Four Mast.), i. e. the men of the 
height, from which the modern name Ferrard has 
been formed. 

Tadg, the son of Cian, had a son named Cormac 
Gaileng (Cormac of the dishonoured spear; see 
Knockgrean, 2nd Vol.), who having fallen under 
the displeasure of his father, fled from Munster to 
Connaught, where he obtained from Cormac mac 
Art, king of Ireland, a district which had pre- 
viously been inhabited by the Firbolgs or "At- 
'cacots." The descendants of Cormac Gaileng 
and his son Luigh, or Lewy, were known by the 
two names Gaiknga (O'Dugan), or the race of 
Gaileng, and Luighne [Leyny : O'Dugan], the 
posterity (ne) of Luigh. These were originally 
only various names for the same tribe, but they 

136 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART IL 

are at the present day applied to different dis- 
tricts one, in the modern form of Gallen, to a 
barony in Mayo, and the other to a barony in 
Sligo, now called Leyny. 

A branch of the same tribe settled in Leinster, 
where there were two territories called respectively 
Mor-Gaiknga and Gaiknga-beag (O'Dugan), or the 
great and little Gaiknga ; the latter is obsolete, 
but the former is still retained in the name of 
the modern barony of Morgallion in Meath. 

Eile, the seventh in descent from Cian, was the 
ancestor of the tribes called Eile or Ely, who gave 
name to several districts, all in the ancient Mumha 
or Munster, and of which O'Carroll was king. 
The only one of these whose name has held its 
ground is Ely O'Fogarty, so called from its ancient 
possessors, the O'Fogartys ; and the name is now 
applied to a barony in Tipperary, in the shortened 
form of Eliogarty. 

Eochy Liathanach [Lehanagh] was fifth in de- 
scent from Olioll Olum, and from him the tribe of 
O'Liathain, who now call themselves O'Lehane or 
Lyons, are derived. Castlelyons in Cork was 
situated in their territory, and still retains its 
name Caiskn-ui-IAathain [Cashlan - ee - Leehan], 
the castle of the territory of Hy-Liathain. 

Settled in different parts of Connaught and 
Leinster were formerly seven tribes three in the 
former province and four in the latter all with 
the same tribe name of Dealhhna [Dal'vana] ; 
they were an offshoot of the Dalcassians of north 
Munster, and were descended from Lewy Deal- 
bhaeth [Dal way], who was the son of Gas Mac 
Tail (seventh in descent from Olioll Olum), the 
ancestor of the Dalcassians. They derived their 
tribe name from Lewy Dealbhaeth : Dealbhna, i. e. 
the descendants of Dealbhaeth. None of these 

CHAP, ii.] Historical Personages. 137 

tribes have left their name in our present territorial 
nomenclature except one, namely, Dealbhna mor, 
or the great Dealbhna, which is now the barony of 
Delvin in Westmeath. 

From Conal, the ninth from Olioll Olum, de- 
scended the tribe of Hy Conaill Gabra (Book of 
Leinster), who possessed a territory in the county 
of Limerick, a part of which still retains the 
name, viz., the baronies of Upper and Lower 

I have already mentioned (p. 90) the destruc- 
tion of the palace of Emania, in the year 332, by 
the three Collas; these were Colla Uais, Colla 
Meann, and Colla da Chrioch, who were the an- 
cestors of many noble families in Ulster and 
Scotland, and the first of whom reigned as king 
of Ireland from A.D. 323 to 326. He was the 
progenitor of the several tribes known by the 
name of Ui mic Uais [Ee-mic-oosh], one of which 
was seated somewhere in the north of Ireland, 
another in East Meath, near Tara, and a third in 
Westmeath. This last is the only one of the 
three whose name has survived ; whose territory 
is now a barony, and known by the name of 
Moygoish, which is an attempt at pronouncing 
the original Ui mic Uais. 

Caerthann [Kieran], the great-grandson of 
Colla Uais, was the ancestor, through his son 
Forgo, of the tribe called Hy Mic Caerthainn 
(Four Mast.) ; the territory they inhabited, which 
was situated in the west of the present county of 
Deny, was called from them Tir-mic- Caerthainn 
(the land of Kieran's son), or more shortly, Tir- 
Chaerthainn, which is still the name of a barony, 
now called Tirkeeran. 

The barony of Cremorne in Monaghan pre- 
serves the name of the ancient district of Crioch- 

138 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

Mughdhorn [Cree-Mourne], i. e. the country 
(crioch] of the people call Mughdhorna, who were 
descended and named from Mughdhorn [Mourne], 
the son of Colla Meann. About the middle of the 
12th century, a tribe of the Mac Mahons emi- 
grated from Cremorne, and settled in the south of 
the present county of Down, to which they gave 
their tribe name of Mughdhorna, and which is now 
known as the barony Mourne. 

The Mourne mountains owe their name to the 
same event, having been previously called Beanna- 
Boirche [Banna borka]. The shepherd Boirche, 
according to the Dinnsenchus, herded on these 
mountains the cattle of Ross (son of Imchadh), 
king of Ulster in the third century, and the ac- 
count states that his favourite look-out point was 
the summit of Slieve Slanga, now Slieve Donard, 
the highest peak in the range ; hence these moun- 
tains received the very appropriate name of 
Beanna-Boirche, Boirche's peaks. 

Niallan, descended in the fourth degree from 
Colla Da Chrioch [Cree], was the progenitor of 
the tribe called Hy Niallain (i. e. Niallan's race) ; 
and their ancient patrimony forms the two baro- 
nies of Oneilland in Armagh, which retains the 

The descendants of Eochy Moyvane, king of 
Ireland from A.D. 358 to 365, branched into a 
vast number of illustrious families, the earlier 
members of which have left their names impressed 
on many localities. The following short genea- 
logical table exhibits a few of his immediate de- 
scendants, viz., those concerned in the present 
inquiry, and it will render what I have to say 
regarding them more easily understood : 

CHAP, ii.] Historical Personages. 139 

Eochy Moyvane. 

I I I 

Fiachra. Olioll.* Niall of the Nine Hostages 

Dathi. Awly. Leary. Owen. Conall, Carbery ; 

| Gulban. 

Fiachra Ealgach. 

Fiachra [Feecra], son of Eochy Moyvane was 
the ancestor of the Hy Fiachrach, which branched 
into a great number of families. Amhalgaidh 
[Awly], his son, brother of the monarch Dathi 
[Dawhy], was king of Connaught, and gave name 
to Tir-Amhalgaidh, i. e. Awly's district, now the 
barony of Tirawly in Mayo. > 

Fiachra Ealgach, son of Dathi, gave his name 
to Tir-Fhiachrach (Four Masters), Fiachra's dis- 
trict ; and the sound is very well preserved in the 
modern name Tireragh, which is applied to a 
barony in Sligo. The barony of Tirerrill in the 
same county was possessed by the descendants of 
Olioll, son of Eochy Moyvane, and from him it 
got the name of Tir-Oliolla (Hy Fiachrach), 
which, by a change of / to r, has been corrupted 
to the present name. 

The great monarch Niall of the Nine Hostages, 
king of Ireland from A.D. 379 to 405, had four- 
teen sons, eight of whom had issue, and became 
the ancestors of many great and illustrious fami- 
lies : of these eight, four remained in Meath, viz., 
Laeghaire [Leary], Conall Criffan, Fiacha, and 
Maine; and four settled in Ulster Eoghan or 
Owen, Conall Gulban, Carbery, and Enna Finn. 
The posterity of Niall are usually called Hy Neitt, 
the southern Hy Neitt being descended from the 
first four, and the northern Hy Neill from the 

140 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART 11. 

Laeghaire was king of Ireland from A. D. 428 
to 458, and his reign was rendered illustrious by 
the arrival of St. Patrick ; he erected one of the 
forts at Tara, which still exists, and retains the 
name Rath- Laeghaire ; and the old name of Kings- 
town Dunleary, Laeghaire's Dun was, in the 
opinion of some, derived from him. 

Owen and Conall Gulban are renowned in Irish 
history as the heads of two great branches of the 
northern Hy Neill, the Kinel Owen and Kinel 
Connell. Owen, who died in A. D. 465, was the 
ancestor of the O'Neills, and his descendants 
possessed the territory extending over the counties 
of Tyrone and Londonderry, and the two baronies 
of Raphoe and Inishowen in Donegal ; all this 
district was anciently called Tir-Eoghain (Wars of 
GO-.), Owen's territory, which is now written 
Tyrone, and restricted to one county. The penin- 
sula between Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly 
received also its name from him, Inishowen, i. e. 
Owen's island. 

Conall, who received the cognomen Gulban 
from having been fostered near the mountain 
Binn-Gulbain (Gulban's peak ; now Binbulbin) in 
Sligo, died in 464; he was the ancestor of the 
O'Donnells, and his posterity ultimately possessed 
the county of Donegal, which from him was called 
Tirconnell, Conall' s district. 

One of the sons of Conall Gulban was Enna 
Boghaine [Boana], and he became the ancestor of 
a tribe called Kinel Boghaine ; the district they 
inhabited was called Tir-Boghaine (Four Mast. ), 
and frequently Baghaineach [Bawnagh], i. e. 
Boghaine' s territory ; and this latter still holds its 
place in the form of Banagh, which is the name of 
a modern barony, a portion of the ancient 

CHAP, ii.] Historical Personages. 141 

Baeighill [Boyle], who was tenth in descent 
from Conall Ghilban, was the ancestor of the 
O'Boyles, and the district they possessed was 
called from them Baeighellach (Four Mast.), or 
Boylagh, which is still the name of a barony in 
the south-west of Donegal. 

Flaherty, also descended from Conall Gulban, 
was king of Ireland from A. D. 723 to 729 : 
fifth in descent from him was Cannanan, from 
whom is derived the family of O'Cannanan (or, 
as they now call themselves, Cannon), who were 
anciently chiefs or kings of Tirconnell, till they 
ultimately sank under the power of the O'Donnells. 
From this family Letterkenny in Donegal received 
its name, which is a shortened form of Letter'. 
Cannanan, the O'Cannanans' hill-slope. 

Carbery, another of NialTs sons, was the ances- 
tor of the Kinel- Carbery ; a part of them settled 
in the north of the present county of Longford, 
where the mountain Slieve-Carbury retains theif 
name ; and another portion took possession of a 
territory in the north of Sligo, which is now 
known as the barony of Carbury. The baronies 
of Carbery in Cork derive their name from a 
different source. When Cathal O'Donovan left 
his native district, Cairbre-Aebhdha in Limerick, 
in the beginning of the 14th century, and settled 
in the south of Cork, he called his newly acquired 
territory Cairbre, the tribe name of his family ; 
and it has retained this name ever since. 

142 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 



OUR early ecclesiastical writers have left us ample 
records of the most remarkable of those illustrious 
men and women, who in the fifth and succeeding 
centuries devoted their lives to the conversion of 
the Irish nation. There are, on the other hand, 

treat numbers, of whom we possess only meagre 
etails, sometimes obscure and conflicting, and 
often very perplexing to the student of those early 
times. And many passed silently to their reward, 
leaving their names, and nothing more, to attest 
their participation in the good work. 

Most of these saints settled in particular dis- 
tricts, and founded churches, monasteries, or 
schools, which continued for ages to be centres of 
civilisation, and of knowledge both secular and 
religious. Whoever understands the deep religi- 
ous feeling of our people, and the fidelity with 
which they cling to the traditions of their ances- 
tors, will not be surprised that in most cases they 
retain to this day in the several localities, a vivid 
recollection of the patron saints, and cherish 
their memory with feelings of affection and 

These churches generally retain the names of 
their founders, suffixed to such words as Kill and 
Temple (a church), Tee, or Ty (a house), &c. 
Names of this kind abound in every part of the 
country ; and in all Ireland there are probably 
not less than ten thousand that commemorate the 
names of the founders, or of the saints to whom 
the churches were dedicated, or that in some other 
way indicate ecclesiastical origin. 

To attempt an enumeration of even the princi- 

CHAP, in.] Early Irish Saints. 143 

pal saints that adorned our country from the fifth 
to the eighth or ninth century, and who are com- 
memorated in local names, would far exceed the 
limits of a chapter ; but I shall here select a few 
for illustration, passing over, however, some of 
the great saints, such as Patrick, Brigid, and 
Columba, whose lives, and the religious establish- 
ments that retain their names are, generally speak- 
ing, sufficiently well-known. 

Soon after St. Patrick's arrival in Ulster, and 
tfhile he was in the neighbourhood of Down- 
patrick, he met and converted a young man 
named Mochaei [Mohee], whose mother was 
Bronach, daughter of the pagan chief Milcho, 
with whom the saint had spent seven years of his 
youth in captivity. After having baptised him, 
he tonsured and dedicated him to the Church ; and 
according to O'Clery's Calendar he was the first 
of the Irish saints to whom St. Patrick presented 
a crosier and a book of the Gospels. 

This Mochaei, who was also called Caelan (i. e. 
a slender person), became afterwards very much 
distinguished, and ultimately attained the rank of 
bishop: he died in the year 497. He built a 
church and established a school at a place called 
Naendruim, or Nendrum, in Strangford Lough, 
which was long a puzzle to topographers, and was 
generally confounded with Antrim, till Dr. 
Reeves, in his " Description of Nendrum," identi- 
fied the place, and corrected the long- established 
error. It forms the eastern portion of Ballinakill 
parish, and in memory of the saint it was also 
called Inis Mochaei or Mahee island, which last 
name it retains to this day. Even yet this place 
retains the relics of its former distinction, namely, 
the remains of a round tower, and of a triple 
cashel or wall surrounding the foundations of the 

144 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART u. 

old church. The name Naendruim signifies " nine 
ridges ;" for so it is explained in MS. H. 3. 18 : 
" Naendruim, i. e. the name of a church, i. e. nine 
hillocks in the island in which it is " (see Naen- 
druim in App. to O'R. Diet.). 

Another of St Patrick's disciples was St. 
Domhanghart [Donart], bishop, son of Eochy, king 
of Ulidia. He founded two churches one at a 
place called Rath-murbhuilg, near the foot of 
Slieve Donard, and the other " on the very sum- 
mit of the mountain itself, far from all human 
habitation " (Colgan, A.SS., p. 743). The ruins 
of this little church existed down to a recent 
period on Slieve Donard ; and the name of the 
mountain stands as a perpetual memorial of the 
saint, who is still held in extraordinary veneration 
among the Mourne mountains, and of whom the 
peasantry tell many curious legends. 

The ancient name of this mountain was Slieve 
Slaing8, so called from the bardic hero Slain ge, 
the son of Parthalon, who was buried on its sum- 
mit ; and the great earn raised over him still ex- 
ists, and forms a very conspicuous object. Giral- 
dus Cambrensis, writing in the twelfth century, 
records the two names of the mountain, but St. 
Domhanghart' s name he latinizes Dominicus : 
" A very high mountain which hangs over the 
sea flowing between Britain and Ireland, is called 
Salanga, from the second [son of Bartholanus, 
namely, Salanus, i. e. Slainge] ; but because St. 
Dominicus many ages afterwards built a noble 
monastery at its base, it is now more usually called 
the mountain of St. Dominicus" [i. e. Slieve 
Donard : Top. Hib., Dist., III. Cap. n.]. 

The " noble monastery " of Cambrensis is the 
church mentioned by Colgan (A. SS., p. 743) as 
"formerly called Rath-murbhuilg , now called 

CHAP, in.j Early Irish Saints. 145 

Machaire-ratha" and which he states is at the foot 
of the mountain. This identifies it with Maghera, 
now the name of a village and parish, north of 
the mountain ; Machaire-ratha (the plain of the 
fort) being pronounced Maghera-rdha, which was 
shortened to Maghera. The old name Rath-murbh- 
uilg (which signifies the rath of the sea-inlet), 
was of course originally applied to a fort, but it 
was afterwards transferred to the church, and 
thence to the parish. The change of name was 
effected by first dropping murbhuilg, and after- 
wards prefixing machaire ; and the intermediate 
stage appears in the taxation of 1306, in which 
the church is called simply Rath. 

The murbholg from which it took its original 
name is the small inlet near it, entering from 
Dundrum Bay ; and it is a curious confirmation 
of the authenticity of the foregoing history of 
the name, that on its shore there are still two 
townlands (originally one) called Murlough, which 
is the anglicised form of Murbholg. 

There is a village in Derry called Maghera, 
which is also contracted from Machaire-ratha. It 
was anciently called Rath-Luraigh (Four Mast.), 
i. e. the fort of St. Lurach, or, as he is now called, 
Lowry, the patron saint, whom O'Clery's Calen- 
dar, at the 17th of February, designates as 
" Lurach of the Poems, son of Guana, of the 
race of Colla Uais, monarch of Ireland : " he is 
well remembered in the place, and his church, 
grave, and holy well are still to be seen. From 
this church, the level land where the town stands 
took the name of Machaire-Ratha-Luraidh (the 
plain of Rathlowry), contracted to Machaire-ratha, 
and modernised to Maghera. 

The patron of Kinawly in Fermanagh is St. 
Natalis, or as he is called in Irish, Naile [Nawly], 
VOL. i. 11 

146 Historical and Legendary Names. [PARTII 

and from him the place is called Cill-Naile (O'Cl. 
Cal.), which ought to have been anglicised Kil- 
nawty. In O'Clery's Calendar, the following 
notice of him occurs at the 27th of January : 
" Naile of Inbher-Naile, in Tir-Baghuine in Cinel- 
Conaill (the barony of Banagh in Donegal), and 
afterwards abbot of Cill-Naile, and Daimhinis in 
Feara-Manach" (Devenish in Fermanagh). Inbher- 
Naile (Naile's river-mouth), is the present village 
of Inver, west of Donegal, of which he is also the 
patron, and where he is still remembered ; and his 
name is preserved in that of Legnawly Glebe 
(Naile's lug or hollow), near the village. 

Another Natalia or Naile is the patron saint of 
Kilmanagh, west of Kilkenny (Cill-Manach, Mart 
Taml., the church of the monks) ; and it may be 
assumed that the church of Killenaule in Tippe- 
rary (which is not far from Kilmanagh), was 
dedicated to, and named from him. 

Some, and among others Colgan, are of opinion 
that the two Nailes are identical, but this is dis- 
puted by Dr. Lanigan. The O'Clerys make them 
different, and state that Naile of Kinawly was the 
son of Aengus, that king of Munster of whom is 
told the celebrated anecdote, that, when he was 
baptised by St. Patrick in Cashel, his foot was 
accidentally pierced by the crosier, and so deep 
was his fervour that he bore it without a word, 
thinking it was part of the ceremony. Whoever 
tries to disentangle this question by referring to 
the calendars, will find it involved in much con- 
fusion ; but it seems certain that they were two 
different persons : that Naile of Fermanagh was 
really the son of Aengus ; and that the other 
Naile flourished somewhat later, for it is stated 
that he died in 564. 

Ardbraccan (Brecan's height) in Meath, was 

CHAP, in.] Early Irish Saints. 147 

founded by St. Brecan, about whose history, 
although he was a very remarkable man, there 
hangs considerable obscurity. The most probable 
accounts represent him as the son of Eochy Ball- 
derg, prince of Thomond, who was baptised by 
St. Patrick at Singland near Limerick. Brecan, 
after having erected a church at Ardbraccan, re- 
moved to the Great Island of Arran, where he 
fixed his principal establishment; and here are 
still to be seen the ruins of his church, and his 
tombstone, inscribed with his name, in very 
ancient Roman characters (see Petrie's R. Towers, 
p. 138). He is also venerated at Kilbreckan 
(Brecan' s church), in the parish of Doora in Clare 
(O'Cl. Gal., p. 117). 

St. Ite, or Ide, virgin, who is often called the 
Brigid of Munster, was one of the most illustrious 
saints in an age abounding with illustrious men 
and women. She was born about the year 480, of 
the noble race of the Desii in "Waterford, being 
descended from Fiacha, the son of Felim the 
Lawgiver. She was from her earliest years filled 
with the spirit of piety, and when she came of 
age, obtained her parents' consent to devote herself 
to a religious life. After having received the 
veil, she proceeded to the territory of Hy Conaill 
in Limerick, where she selected a spot called 
Cluain Credhuil [Clooncrail] for her residence. 
She was soon visited by great numbers of pious 
maidens, who placed themselves under her direc- 
tion ; and in this manner sprang up her nunnery, 
which was the first in that part of the country, 
and which afterwards attained to great celebrity. 
The name of the place was changed to Cill-Ide 
(O'Cler. Cal.), or as it is now called Killeedy, 
which gives name to a parish ; and at the 
present day the place contains the ruins of a 

148 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

very ancient, and exquisitely beautiful little 

This virgin saint is remembered with intense 
veneration all over Munster, and especially in 
Limerick. Her name is sometimes changed to 
Mide (by prefixing Mo*), and in this form we find 
it in the names of churches dedicated to her, of 
which there are several, and which are now called 
Kilmeedy ; one of them giving name to a village 
in Limerick 

St. Brendan of Clonfert, or as he is often called 
Brendan the navigator, was the son of Finlogh of 
the race of Ciar (see p. 127) ; and was born near 
Tralee in Kerry in the year 484. He received the 
rudiments of his education under a bishop Ere, 
and was an intimate friend of St. Ite of Killeedy. 
After having studied with St. larlath at Tuam, 
and with St. Finnian at Clonard, he visited Brit- 
tany, where he founded a monastery. It was 
previous to this last visit that he undertook his 
famous voyage, in which he is said to have spent 
seven years sailing about on the western sea, and 
to have landed on various strange shores. 

He founded the monastery of Clonfert in Gal- 
way about the year 553, where he drew together 
a vast number of monks; it soon became one 
of the most celebrated religious establishments in 
Ireland ; and in memory of the founder the place 
is generally called in the Annals Clonfert Brendain. 

* The syllables mo (my) and do or da (thy), were often pre- 
fixed to the names of Irish saints as terms of endearment or 
reverence ; thus Conna became Mochonna, and Dachonna. 
The diminutives an, in, and 6g were also often postfixed ; as 
we find in Ernan, Ernog, Baeithin, Baethan, &c. Sometimes 
the names were greatly changed by these additions ; thus 
Aedk is the same name as Maedhog (Mo-Aedh-6g, my little 
Aedh), though when pronounced they are quite unlike, Aedh 
being pronounced Ai (to rhyme with day), and Maedhog, 
Alogue; Ai = Mogue! (See 2nd Vol., c. II.). 

CHAP, in.j Early Irish Saints. 149 

He also founded the monastery of Ardfert, in his 
native county (which is also called Ardfert Bren- 
dain], where a beautiful ancient church still 
remains. There are several places in Ireland 
called Clonfert, which name is written in the 
Book of Leinster Cluain-ferta, the meadow of the 
grave ; and Ardfert is written by the Four Mas- 
ters Ard-ferta, the height of the grave. There is 
a parish in the King's County called Kilclonfert 
(the church of the meadow of the grave : St. 
Colman patron), the ancient name of which as 
given in O'Clery's Cal., is Cluain-ferta- Mughaine. 

There are two remarkable mountains in Ireland 
called Brandon Hill from this saint. One is near 
Inistioge in Kilkenny ; and the other is the well- 
known mountain one of the highest in Ireland 
west of Tralee in Kerry, on the summit of which 
are the ruins of his oratory, with an ancient stone- 
paved causeway leading to it, which are probably 
coeval with St. Brendan himself. 

There were many saints named Ciaran or Kie- 
ran, but two of them were distinguished beyond 
the others St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, of whom 
I shall not speak here, and St. Ciaran of Ossory. 
Regarding the exact period when the latter flou- 
rished, there is much uncertainty ; but according 
to the most reliable accounts he became a bishop 
about the year 538. He was born in the island of 
Cape Clear ; but his father, Lugneus, was a native 
of Ossory, and of kingly descent. 

Ciaran was one of the numerous band of saints 
who attended St. Finnian's school at Clonard ; and 
having retired to a solitary place called Saighir 
[Sair], in the territory of Eile in Minister, he 
after some time erected a monastery there, which 
gradually grew and became the nucleus of a town. 
He subsequently employed himself partly in the care 

150 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

of his monastery, and partly in preaching the 
Gospel to the Ossorians and others, of whom he 
converted great numbers. 

According to a gloss in the Felire of Aengus at 
the 5th of March (Ciaran's festival day), Saighir 
was the name of a fountain ; after the saint's time 
it was called Saighir- Ciarain, which is now con- 
tracted to Seirkieran, the name of a parish near 
Parsonstown. Ciaran is also the patron of Rath- 
kieran in Kilkenny, where he probably built his 
church near a pagan rath, which took his name. 

On the island of Cape Clear, traditions of St. 
Ciaran still flit among the peasantry. An ancient 
little church retains the name of Kilkieran ; and 
a strand in one part of the island is called Tra- 
kieran (Ciaran's strand), on which stands a primi- 
tive stone cross, said to have been made by the 
saint's own hands. 

St. Ciaran established a nunnery near Seir- 
kieran for his mother Liadhan [Leean], or Lieda- 
nia ; and from her the place has since borne the 
name of Killyon (Liadhan's church). It is highly 
probable that it is from her also that the parish of 
Killyon in Meath, and the townland of Killyon 
in the parish of Dunfierth, Kildare, received their 
names. The parish of Killian in Galway, which 
is written Killithain in the Register of Clonmac- 
noise, took its name from some saint of this name, 
but whether from St. Ciaran's mother, or another 
Liedania, is uncertain. 

There were several saints called Baeithin [Bwee- 
heen], of whom the most distinguished was 
Baeithin of lona, so called because he was a com- 
panion, relative, and disciple of St. Columba, and 
governed the monastery for four years after that 
saint's death: he died the 9th of June, 600. This 
saint, whom Columba very much loved, is often 

CHAP, in.] Early Irish Saints. 151 

mentioned by Adamnan ; and in O'Clery's Calen- 
dar lie is spoken of in these words : "Baeithin, 
abbot of Icolumkille after Columkille himself; 
and Tech-Baeithin (Baeithin's house), in Cinel- 
Conaill (Donegal) was his chief church, for he was 
of the race of Conall Grulban, son of Niall of the 
Nine Hostages." His memory is still revered at 
this church, which is now called Taughboyne, and 
gives name to a parish in Donegal. 

There is another Tech-Baeithin in the ancient 
territory of Airteach in Roscommon, which also 
gives name to a parish, now called Tibohine, the 
patron saint of which is a different Baeithin. He 
is mentioned in O'Clery's Calendar at the 19th of 
February (his festival day) : " Baeithin, bishop, 
(son of Cuana) of Tech-Baeithin in Airteach, or in 
the west of Midhe (Meath). He was of the race 
of Enda, son of Niall" [of the Nine Hostages]. 
He Was one of the ecclesiastics to whom the apos- 
tolic letter was written in the year 640, on the 
subject of the time for celebrating Easter (see 
Bede, Hist. Eccl., Lib. II., Cap. xix.). 

The church " in the west of Midhe," mentioned 
above, is Taghboyne, in the parish of Churchtown, 
"Westmeath, where he is also patron. He built 
another church near an ancient rath, not far from 
Kells in Meath, and the rath remains, while the 
church has disappeared ; hence it was called Rath- 
Baeithin, and in recent times Balrathboyne, the 
town of Baeithin's rath, which is now the name 
of a parish. 

Another Baeithin, son of Finnach, of the race 
of Laeighsech Ceannmhor (see p. 129), built a 
church at Ennisboyne (Baeithin's island or river 
holm), in the parish of Dunganstown. Wicklow, 
where there is still an interesting church ruin. 
He is supposed to have flourished about the begin- 

152 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

ning of the seventh century. Crossboyne in 
Mayo is called in " Hy Fiachrach," Cros-BaeUhin, 
i. e. St. Baeithin's cross ; but who this Baeithin 
was I have not been able to ascertain. 

St. Ninny, the patron of Inishmacsaint in Fer- 
managh, is commemorated in O'Clery's Calendar 
at the 17th of January, in the following words : 
"Ninnidh, bishop of Inis-muighe-samh, in Loch 
Erne ; and he was Ninnidh Saebhruisc (saebhruisc, 
i. e. torvi oculi), who was of the race of Enda, son 
of Niall " [of the Nine Hostages] ; and at the 
16th of January he is mentioned in the Mart. 
Taml. aa "Ninnid Lethderc" (i. e. one-eyed). 
He was a disciple of St. Finnian of Clonard, and 
was a contemporary of St. Columba. 

Knockninny, a hill in the south of Fermanagh, 
which gives name to a barony, is called Cnoi 
Ninnidh (Ninny's hill) by the Four Masters ; and 
though we have no written record of St. Ninny's 
connection with it, the uniform tradition of the 
place is, that the hill derived its name from him. 

St. Molaga, or, as he is sometimes called, 
Lochein, was born in the territory of Fermoy in 
Cork, where he also received his education ; and 
after distinguishing himself by piety and learning, 
he established a monastery at a place called 
Tulach-Min (smooth little hill), in the same 

He visited Connor, in Ulster, and thence pro- 
ceeded to North Britain and Wales. On his re- 
turn he settled for some time in Fingal, north of 
Dublin, where he kept a swarm of bees, a portion 
of the bees brought over from Wales by St. 
Modomnoc of Tibberaghny in Kilkenny. From 
this circumstance the place was called Lann- 
beachaire [backera : O'Clery's Cal.], the church 

CHAP, in.] Early Irish Saints. 153 

of the bee-man.* This is the ruined church and 
cemetery of Bremore, a little north of Balbrig- 
gan, now nameless, but which in the Reg. Alani 
of the see of Dublin is called Lambeecher. He 
returned to Tulach-mm, and died there on the 
20th of January, some short time after the year 664. 

He is the patron saint of Templemolaga near 
Mitchelstown in Cork, where on the bank of the 
Puncheon, in a sequestered spot, is situated his 
church; it is called in the Book of Lismore, 
Eidhnen Malaga Molaga's little ivy (church), a 
name which most truly describes the present ap- 
pearance of this venerable little ruin. It is now 
called Templemolaga, and gives name to the 
parish ; and near it is situated the saint's well, 
Tober-Molaga. About four miles north-east of 
Templemolaga is the ruined church of Labbamo- 
laga, Molaga's bed or grave, which gives name to 
a townland. The place called Tulachmin was ob- 
viously identical with, or in the immediate 
neighbourhood of, Templemolaga ; but the name 
is now obsolete. 

Timoleague, in the south of Cork, is called by 
the Four Masters, Teach-Molaga, Molaga's house ; 
we have no record of St. Molaga's connection with 
this place, but there can be little doubt that he 
built a church there, from which the name is 
derived ; and the place is still well known for its 
fine abbey ruins. 

* Giraldus, among others, relates this circumstance of the 
importation of bees by St. Modomnoc, or Domnoc, or as he 
calls him, Dominicus : " St. Dominicus of Ossory, as some 
say, introduced bees into Ireland, long after the time of 
Solinus" (Top. Hib., Dist. L, c. v.). Some records say that 
these were the first bees brought to Ireland, but Lanigan (Vol. 
II. p. 3B1) shows that there were bees in the country before 
St. Domnoc's time. It is evident that he merely imported 
hive or domesticated bees. 

154 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

St. Mocheallog [Mohallog] or Dacheallog flou- 
rished in the beginning of the seventh century. 
According to Lanigan, he spent some time under 
the instruction of St. Declan of Ardmore, and 
died between the years 639 and 656. He founded 
a church at Kilmallock in Limerick, which the 
same author says is supposed to be a contraction 
of Cill-Mocheallog ; but there can be no doubt at 
all that it is so, and for two sufficient reasons : 
first, because in the Felire of Aengus it is stated 
at the 26th of March, St. Mocheallog's festival 
day, that Cill-Dacheallog is in the territory of Hy 
Carbery in Munster, which identifies it with 
Kilmallock, as Hy Carbery included the barony 
of Coshma ; and, secondly, the inhabitants at this 
day, when speaking Irish, always call the town 
Cill-Mocheallog, St. Mocheallog's Church. 

Finan was the name of many saints, of whom 
Finan surnamed Lobhar, or the leper, because for 
thirty years he was afflicted with some kind of 
leprosy, was the most remarkable. He was a 
native of Ely O'Carroll in King's County, then 
forming part of Munster, and governed for some 
time as abbot the monasteries of Swords near 
Dublin, and Clonmore-Mogue in Leinster. He is 
mentioned in O'Clery's Calendar at the 16th of 
March, in the following words : " Finan the leper 
of Sord, and of Cluain-mor in Leinster ; and of 
Ard-Fionain in Munster ; he was of the race of 
Oian, son of Olioll Olum." He died between the 
years 675 and 695. 

He founded a monastery in the island of Innis- 
f alien (see p. 110), in the lower lake of Killarney ; 
and that of Ardfinnan in Tipperary (mentioned 
above), which preserves his name. Kilfinane in 
Limerick doubtless owes its foundation to this 
Finan also, being called in Irish Cill-Fhionain, i. e 

CHAP, in.*] Early Irish Saints. 155 

Finan's church ; his well still exists, and his festi- 
val was formerly celebrated there, but all memory 
of the exact day is lost. 

Another Finan, who was surnamed Cam, i. e. 
crooked, because, as the Mart. Taml. has it, 
" there was an obliquity in his eyes," flourished 
in the sixth century. He was a native of Corka- 
guiny in Kerry, and was descended from Carbery 
Muse. He is the patron of Kinnitty, in King's 
County Ceann-Eitigh, Etech's head so called 
according to a gloss in the Felire of Aengus at the 
7th of April, the saint's festival day, because the 
head of Etech, an ancient Irish princess, was 
buried there. Derrynane, the well-known seat of 
the O'Connell family, took its name from him. 
Doire-Fhiondin (Fh silent) Finan's oak-grove ; 
and his house, one of the beehive-shaped struc- 
tures, is still to be seen on Church Island, in 
Currane Lough, four miles north of Derrynane. 
His name is also preserved in Rahinnane, Finan's 
fort, now a townland near Yentry, so called from 
a fine rath, in the centre of which stand the ruins 
of a castle. 

One of the brightest ornaments of the Irish 
Church in the seventh and eighth centuries was 
the illustrious Adamnan, abbot of lona, and the 
writer of the well-known Life of St. Columba ; 
whom the Venerable Bede designates as " a wise 
and good man, and most eminently learned in the 
science of the Holy Scriptures " (Hist. Eccl., Lib. 
V., Cap. xv.). We have no direct record of the 
exact place or time of his birth, but there is good 
reason to believe that he was a native of Donegal, 
and that he was born about the year 627. He 
was elected abbot of lona in the year 679. In 
685 he was sent to Alfrid, king of the Northum- 
brian Saxons, to solicit a restoration of some 

156 ' Historical and Legendary Names. [PART 11. 

captives that had been carried ofi the previous 
year from the territory of Meath by Saxon pirates ; 
and in this mission he was eminently successful. 
About the year 703 he visited Ireland for the last 
time, and succeeded in inducing most of the 
northern Irish to adopt the Roman method of 
computing the time for Easter. He returned to 
lona in 704, in which year he died, in the 77th 
year of his age. 

The name Adamnan is, according to Cormac's 
Glossary, an Irish diminutive of Adam. It 
is generally pronounced in three syllables, but its 
proper Irish pronunciation is Awnaun, the d and 
m being both aspirated (Adhamhndn). The saint's 
name is commemorated in several places in 
Ireland, and always, as might be expected, in 
this phonetic form. 

He is the patron of Raphoe, where he was 
called Eunan, but no place there retains the name. 
He is also patron of Ballindrait in the parish of 
Clonleigh, Donegal, the Irish name of which is 
Droichet-Adhamhnain, St. Adamnan's bridge. 
The modern designation has not preserved the 
name of the saint ; Ballindrait is contracted from 
the Irish Baik-an-droichit, the town of the bridge. 

Errigal in Londonderry has Adamnan also for 
its patron, and hence it was called in Irish Aire- 
cal-Adhamhnain, Adamnan's habitation. The old 
church was situated in the townland of Ballin- 
temple (the town of the church] ; south of which 
is the only local commemoration of the saint's 
name, viz., a large stone called "Onan's rock." 

In the life of St. Farannan, published by 
Colgan, we are informed that Tibraide, lord of 
Hy Flachrach, bestowed on St. Columba a place 
called Cnoc-na-maoile ; but that it was subsequently 
called Serin- Adhamhnain from a shrine of that 

CHAP, in.] Early Irish Saints. 157 

saint afterwards erected there. From this shrine 
the parish of Skreen in Sligo derived its name. 
He is there called Awnaim, and his well, Tober- 
awnaun (which gives name to a townland), lies a 
few perches from the old church. 

There is a townland called Syonan in the parish 
of Ardnurcher in Westmeath, which, according 
to the Annals of Clonmacnoise, received its name 
from him. The tradition of the place is, that 
Adamnan in one of his visits to Ireland preached 
to the multitude on the hill there, which has ever 
since been called Suidhe-Adhamhnain [Syonan], 
Adamnan's seat. Killonan in the parish of Derry- 
galvin in Limerick, may also have been called so 
from him, but of this we have no evidence.* 

The Martyrology of Tallaght, at the 3rd of 
March, mentions St. Moshacra, the son of Senan, 
of Teach-Sacra; and in O'Clery's Calendar we 
find, " Moshacra, abbot of Clonenagh, and of 
Teach Sacra, in the vicinity of Tallaght." 

This Moshacra or Sacra was one of the fathers 
who composed the synod held at Armagh about 
the year 696, at which Adamnan attended from 
lona. He was the founder and abbot of the 
monastery at Teach-Sacra (Sacra's house), a name 
afterwards changed to Tassagard (Grace's Annals) 
and subsequently contracted to Saggart, which is 
now the name of a village and parish near 
Tallaght in Dublin. 

One of the most remarkable among the early 
saints of Ireland was St. Moling, bishop of Ferns. 
He was descended from Cahirmore, monarch of 
Ireland in the second century ; his mother was 
Nemnat, a native of Kerry, and he is therefore 

* See the Very Rev. Dean Reeves' Edition of Adamnan's 
Life of St. Columba, from which the above account has been 

158 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

often called Moling Luachra, from the district of 
Luachair, on the borders of Cork, Kerry, and 
Limerick. At his intercession, and in opposition 
to the advice of St. Adamnan, Finaghta, king of 
Ireland remitted the Borumha or cow-tribute to 
the Leinstermen, which had been exacted for cen- 
turies, and which was reimposed many years 
afterwards by Brian Borumha. He died on the 
17th of May, 697. 

He is mentioned in O'Clery's Calendar as " Mo- 
ling Luachra, bishop and confessor, of Tigh- 
Moling." This place is situated on the Barrow, in 
the south of the county of Carlow, and was origi- 
nally called Eosbroc, badger wood ; but the saint 
erected a church there about the middle of the 
seventh century, and it was afterwards called 
Tigh-Moling [Tee-Moling], i. e. St. Moling's house, 
which is now reduced to St. Mullins. The village 
of Timolin in Kildare, took its name from a church 
erected there by him, and it preserves more cor- 
rectly the original form, Tigh-Moling. 

St. Aengus the Culdee or, as he is often called, 
Aengus the Hagiologist embraced a religious 
life in the monastery of Clonenagh, in Queen's 
County ; and having made great progress in 
learning and holiness, he entered the monastery of 
Tallaght, near Dublin. There he spent several 
years under St. Maelruin, whom he assisted to 
compile a Calendar of saints, which is well known 
as the Marty rology of Tallaght. He was the 
author of a still more celebrated work, which is 
now commonly known as the Felire of Aengus, a 
metrical calendar, in which the saints of each day 
are commemorated in a stanza of four lines. He 
died, according to the most probable accounts, 
about the year 824.* 

* See the Life of St. Aengus the Culdee, by the Rev. John 

CHAP, iv.] Legends. 159 

He built a cell for himself in a lonely spot near 
Clonenagh, to which he frequently retired for 
meditation and prayer, and it was called from him 
Disert-Aengusa, Aengus's hermitage, now modern- 
ised to Dysartenos. Dysert near Croom in Lime- 
rick was formerly called Dysert-Enos, and it 
probably received its name from the same saint. 
The place is now well known for its very ancient 
church ruin and its round tower. 



MANY of the legends with which the early history 
of our country abounds are no doubt purely fabu- 
lous, the inventions of the old shanachies or story 
tellers. Great numbers, on the other hand, are 
obviously founded on historical events ; but they 
have been so distorted and exaggerated by succes- 
sive generations of romances, so interwoven with 
strange or supernatural circumstances, or so far 
removed from their true date into the regions of 
antiquity, that they have in many cases quite lost 
the look of probability. It is impossible to draw 
an exact line of demarcation between what is 
partly real and what is wholly fictitious; but 
some of these shadowy relations possess certain 
marks, and are corroborated by independent cir- 
cumstances, which render it extremely probable 
that they have a foundation of truth. 

It must be carefully borne in mind that the 
correctness of the interpretations given in this 
chapter is not at all affected by the truth or false- 

160 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

hood of the legends connected with the names. 
It is related in the Dinnsenchus, that Conall 
Cearnach, one the most renowned of the Red 
Branch Knights of Ulster in the first century, 
lived in his old age at Cruachan, the royal palace 
of Maev, queen of Connaught. Olioll More, 
Maev's husband, was slain by the old warrior with 
a cast of a javelin ; and the men of Connaught 
pursued and overtook him at a ford over a river in 
the present county of Cavan, where the village of 
Ballyconnel now stands. There they slew him, so 
that the place was ever after called Bel-atha- 
Chonaill [Bellaconnell] ; and this event is still 
remembered in the traditions of the neighbour- 

The reader may or may not believe this story j 
nevertheless the name signifies ConalTs ford- 
mouth, for we find it always written in Irish 
authorities, and pronounced at this day by the 
natives, Bel-atha-Chonaitt ; and it is certain that it 
took its name from some man named Conall, 
whether it be Conal Cearnach or not. 

The accounts handed down to us of the early 
colonies belong to the class of historical legends. 
I have included some of them in the chapter on 
historical events, and others I shall bring in here; 
but in this case too it is difficult, and sometimes 
impossible, to determine the line of separation. 
They have been transmitted from several ancient 
authorities, and always with remarkable consist- 
ency; many of them are reflected in the tradi- 
tions of the peasantry ; and the truth of several is 
confirmed by present existing monuments. But 
to most of them the old historians have assigned 
an antiquity so incredible or absurd, that many 
reject them on this account as a mass of fables. 

The first who led a colony to Ireland, according 

CHAP, iv.] Legends. 161 

to our bardic histories, was a woman named Cea- 
sair or Casar, who came forty days before the 
deluge, with fifty young women and three men 
Bith [Bih], Ladhra [Lara], and Fintan. Ceasair 
and the three IT en died soon after their arrival, and 
gave names to four different places ; but they are 
all now forgotten with one exception. Bith was 
buried on a mountain, which was called from him 
Sliabh Beatha [Slievebaha] . It is well known 
and retains the very same name in Irish ; but it 
is called in English Slieve Beagh a range situ- 
ated on the confines of Monaghan, Fermanagh, 
and Tyrone. Bith's cairn still exists, and is a 
large and conspicuous monument on the top of a 
hill, in the townland of Carnmore (to which it 
gives name), parish of Clones, Fermanagh ; and 
it may be seen from the top of the moat of Clones, 
distant about seven miles north-west.* 

The first leader of a colony after the flood was 
Parthalon, who, with his followers, ultimately took 
up his residence on the plain anciently called Sean- 
mhagh Ealta-Edair [Shan-va-alta-edar], the old 
plain of the flocks of Edar, which stretched along the 
coast by Dublin, from Tallaght to Edar, or Howth. 
The legend which is given in several very ancient 
authorities relates that after the people of this 
colony had lived there for 300 years, they were 
destroyed by a plague, which in one week carried 
off 5,000 men and 4,000 women ; and they were 
buried in a place called, from this circumstance, 
Taimhleacht-Mhuintire-Parthaloin (Four Mast.), the 
Tamlaght or plague-grave of Parthalon's people. 
This place, which lies about five miles from 
Dublin, still retains the name Taimhleacht, mo- 
dernised to Tallaght; and on the hill lying beyond 

* See O'Dcmovan'a Four Masters, Vol. I., p. 3. 
VOL. I. 12 

162 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

the village, there is to be seen at this day a re- 
markable collection of ancient sepulchral tumuli, 
in which cinerary urns are found in great 

The word Taimhkacht, a plague-monument a 
place where people who died of an epidemic were 
buried is pretty common as ;. local appellative in 
various parts of Ireland, under different forms : 
it is of pagan origin, and so far as I know is not 
applied to a Christian cemetery, except by adop- 
tion, like other pagan terms. In the northern 
counties it is generally made Tamlaght and 
Tamlat, while in other places it takes the forms of 
Tawlaght, Towlaght, and Toulett. 

In combination with other words, the first t is 
often aspirated, which softens it down still more. 
Thus Derryhowlaght and Derryhawlagh in Fer- 
managh, is the oak-grove of the plague-grave; 
Doohamlat in Monaghan, and Doohallat in Cavan, 
black grave. Magherahamlet in Down, is called 
on the Down Survey, Mayherehowktt, and in a 
patent of James I., MagJwrhamlaght, both of which 
point to the Irish Machaire-thaimhkachta [Mahera- 
navlaghta], the field of the plague-grave. 

The Fomorians a race of pirates who infested 
the coasts of Ireland, and oppressed the inhabi- 
tants are much celebrated in our histories. They 
came to Ireland in the time of Nemed (who led 
another colony, thirty years after the destruction 
of Parthalon's people) ; and their principle strong- 
hold was Tory island. Balor of the great blows 
was their chief, and two of the tower-like rocks 
on the east side of Tory are still called Balor'e 
castle and Balor's prison. 

His wife, Cethlenn (Kehlen), seems to have 
been worthy of her husband. She fought at the 
second battle of Moytura, and inflicted a wound 

CHAP, iv.] Legends. 163 

on the Dagda, the king of the Dedannans, of which 
he afterwards died. It is stated in the Annals of 
Clonmacnoise that Enniskillen received its name 
from her: in the Irish authorities it is always 
called Inis-Cethlenn, Cethlenn's island. 

At this time there lived on the mainland, oppo- 
site Tory, a chieftain named Mac Kineely, who 
was the owner of the Glasgavlen, a celebrated 
cow, remembered in tradition all over Ireland. 
Balor possessed himself of the Glas by a stratagem, 
and carried her off to Tory ; and then Mao Kineely, 
Acting on the directions of a fairy called Biroge of 
the mountain, concerted a plan of revenge, which 
many years after led to the death of Balor. "When 
Balor became aware of this, he landed with his 
band on the mainland coast, and seized on Mac 
Kineely ; and, placing his head on a large white 
stone, he cut it clean off with one blow of his 

Hence the place was called Clock- Chinnfhaelaidh, 
which is the name used by the Four Masters and 
other authorities, signifying Kinfaela's or Kineely's 
ptone ; and the pronunciation is well preserved in 
the present name of the place, Cloghineely. The 
stone is still to be seen, and is very carefully pre- 
served ; it is veined with red, which is the stain 
of Mac Kineely's blood that penetrated to its 
centre ; and the tourist who is a lover of legend 
may indulge his taste among the people, who will 
tell endless stories regarding this wonderful stone.* 

From the same people the Giant's Causeway 
has derived its name. It is called in Irish Clochan- 
na-bhFomharaigh [Clohanavowry : O'Brien'B Diet, 
voce Fomhar~\ the cloghan, or stopping-stones, 01 

* See O'Donovan's Four Masters, Vol. I., p. 18, for a very 
full version of this legend. 

164 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

causeway of the Fomorians; and as those sea 
rovers were magnified into giants in popular 
legend, the name came to be translated " Giant's 

The celebrities of the Dedannan colony have 
left their names on many localities. From the 
princess Danann some suppose they derive their 
name ; and from her also two remarkable moun- 
tains in Kerry were called Da-chich-Danainne, the 
two paps of Danann, now well known as The 

One of the most celebrated characters among 
this people was Manannan Mac Lir, of whom we 
are told in Cormac's Glossary and other ancient 
authorities, that he was a famous merchant who 
resided in, and gave name to Inis Manann, or the 
Isle of Man; that he was the best merchant in 
western Europe ; and that he used to know, by 
examining the heavens, the length of time the fair 
and the foul weather would last. 

He was also called Orbsen ; and he was killed by 
Ullin, grandson of Nuad of the silver hand, in a 
battle fought at Moycullen near Lough Corrib, in 
which the two chiefs contended for the sovereignty 
of Connaught ; and when his grave was dug, it 
was then Loch Orbsen burst [out of the grave] 
over the land, so that it is from him that Loch 
Orbsen is named. (Yellow Book of Lecan, quoted 
by O'Curry, Atlantis, VII., p. 228). This lake is 
called Loch Orbsen (Orbsen's lake^ in all our autho- 
rities ; and this was changed to the present name, 
Lough Corrib, by omitting the final syllable, and 
by the attraction of the c sound from Loch to 
Orbsen; Boate has it in the intermediate form, 
Lough Corbes. 

Many of the legendary heroes of the Milesian 
eolonv are also remembered m local names. When 

CHAP, iv.] Legends. 165 

the sons of Milesius came to invade Ireland, a 
storm was raised by the incantations of the 
Dedannans which drove them from Inver Sceine, 
or Kenmare bay, where they had attempted to 
land, scattered their fleet along the coast, and 
drowned many of their chiefs and people. Donn, 
one of the brothers, and all the crew of his ship 
were lost on a range of rocks off Kenmare bay, 
afterwards called in memory of the chief, Teach- 
Dhoinn, i. e. Donn's House, which is the name 
used by the Irish-speaking peasantry at the pre- 
sent day ; but they are called in English, the Bull, 
Cow, and Calf. 

Colpa the swordsman, another of the brothers, 
was drowned in attempting to land at the mouth 
of the Boyne, and that part of the river was called 
from him Inver Colptha [Colpa : Four Mast.], 
Colpa's river-mouth. This name is no longer ap- 
plied to it ; but the parish of Colp, lying on its 
southern bank, retains the name with little change. 
Eimher [Eiver], son of Milesius, landed with 
his followers at Inver Sceine, and after three days 
they fought a battle against a party of the 
Dedannans at Slieve Mish, near Tralee, where 
fell Scota, the wife of Milesius, and Fas, wife of 
Un. Fas was interred in a glen, called from her 
Gleann-Faisi (Four Mast.) ; it is now called Gleno- 
faush, and is situated at the base of Caherconree 
mountain about seven miles west of Tralee. The 
Four Masters state that " the grave of Scota is to 
be seen between Slieve Mish and the sea ; " it is 
still well known by the name of Scota' s grave, and 
is situated by the Finglas stream; the glen is 
called Grlenscoheen, Scotina's or Scota' s glen ; and 
the monument, which was explored some years 
ago by a party of antiquaries, still remains. 

A decisive battle was afterwards fought at 

166 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART 11. 

Tailltenn or Teltown in Meath, in which the 
Dedannans were finally routed. In following up 
the pursuit, two distinguished Milesian chief- 
tains were slain, namely, Fuad and Cuailnge, the 
sons of Brogan, grandfather of Milesius. The 
former fell at Sliabh Fuaid (Four Mast. : Fuad's 
mountain), near Newtownhamilton in Armagh, 
which still retains the name of Slieve Fuad ; it is 
the highest of the Fews range ; but the two words, 
Fuad and Feios, have no connection, the former 
being much the more ancient. 

The place where Cuailnge [Cooley] fell was 
called Sliabh Cuailnge (Four Mast.) ; it is the 
mountainous peninsula lying between the bays of 
Dundalk and Carlingford, and the range of heights 
still bears tie name of the Cooley Mountains. 
From Bladh [Blaw], another of Brogan's sons, 
wap named Sliabh Bladhma ( Slieve-Blawma ; Four 
Masters), now called Slievebloom. Whether this 
is the same person who is commemorated in Lick- 
bla in Westmeath, I cannot tell; but the name 
signifies " Bladh's flagstone," for the Four Mas- 
ters write it Liag-Bladhma. 

Fial, the wife of Lewy (son of Ith, the uncle oi 
Milesius), gave name to the river Feale in Kerry ; 
tho legend says that her husband unexpectedly 
came in sight, while she stood naked after bathing 
in tlie stream ; and that she, not recognising him, 
imr\ediately died through fear and shame. An 
abbey, built in later ages on its banks, was called 
in Irish Mainistir-na-Feik, i. e. the abbey of the 
river Feale, which is now called Abbeyfeale, and 
gives name to the town. 

Legends about cows are very common. Our 
Annals relate that Breasal Boidhiobhadh [Bo- 
yeeva] son of Rury, ascended the throne of Ire- 
land, A.M. 5001. He received his cognomen, 

CHAP, iv.] Legends. 167 

because there was a great mortality of cows in his 
reign : bo, a cow, diobhadh, death. The Annals of 
Clonmacnoise mention this event in the following 
words : " In his time there was such a morren of 
cows in this land, as there were no more then left 
alive hut one Bull and one Heiffer in the whole 
kingdom, which Bull and Heiffer lived at a place 
called Q-leann Sawasge." This glen is situated in 
the county of Kerry, in the parish of Templenoe, 
north-west of Kenmare, and near the valley of 
Glencare ; and it is still called Okann-samhaisce 
[sowshke], the valley of the heifer. The tradition 
is well remembered in the county, and they tell 
many wonderful stories of this bull and heifer, 
from which, they maintain, the whole race of 
Irish cows is descended. 

There is a small lake in the island of Inishbofin, 
off the coast of Connemara, in which there livea 
an enchanted white cow, or bo-Jinn, which appears 
above the waters at certain times ; hence the lake 
is called Loch-bo-finne, the lake of the white cow, 
and it has given name to the island. Bede calls 
the island Inis-bo-finde, and interprets it " the 
island of the white cow." 

There is another Inishbofin in Lough Eee on the 
Shannon, which in Colgan's Life of St. Aidus is 
similarly translated; another off the coast of 
Donegal, south of Tory island. We find also several 
lakes in different parts of Ireland called Lough 
Bonn, the white cow's lake ; Lough Boderg (of 
the red cow), is a lake on the Shannon south of 
Carrick-on-Shannon ; Corrabofin near Ballybay in 
Monaghan (properly Carrowbofin, the quarter- 
land of the white cow) ; Gortbofinna (Gort, a field), 
near Mallow in Cork, Drombofinny (Drom, a 
ridge) in the parish of Desertserges, same county ; 
Lisbofin in Fermanagh and Armagh ; LisbodufF 

168 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

(the fort of the black cow), in Cavan, and many 
others. It is very probable that these names also 
are connected with legends. 

There are several places in Ireland whose names 
end with urcher, from the Irish word urchur, a 
throw, cast, or shot. In every such place there is 
a legend of some remarkable cast of a weapon, 
memorable for its prodigious length, for killing 
some great hero, a wild animal, or infernal ser- 
pent, or for some other sufficient reason. For 
example, Urcher itself is the name of three town- 
lands in Armagh, Cavan, and Monaghan ; and in 
the last- mentioned county, in the parish of Currin, 
there is a place called Drumurcher, the ridge of 
the cast. 

The most remarkable of these mighty casts is 
commemorated at the place now called Ardnurcher, 
in Westmeath a cast that ultimately caused the 
death of Conor Mac Nessa, king of Ulster in the 
first century. The name Ardnurcher is a cor- 
ruption, and the proper form would be Athnurcher ; 
the Four Masters, in recording the erection of the 
castle in 1192, whose ruins are still there, call it 
Ath-an-urchair ; and the natives still call it in 
Irish Baile-atha-an-urchair, which they pronounce 

Conall Cearnach, on a certain occasion, slew in 
single combat a Leinster chieftain named Mesgedh- 
ra [Mesgera], whose brains according to the 
barbarous custom then prevalent he mixed with 
lime, and made of them a hard round ball, which 
he kept both as a weapon and as a trophy. There 
was at this time a war raging between Ulster and 
Connaught, and Ceat [Keth] mac Magach, a Con- 
naught chief, having by stratagem obtained pos- 
session of the ball, kept it always slung from his 
girdle ; for it had been prophesied that Messera 

CHAP, iv.j Legends. 169 

would be revenged of the Ulstermen after his 
death, and Keth hoped that this prophecy would 
be fulfilled by means of the ball. 

Keth went one time with his band, to plunder 
some of the Ulster territories, and returning with 
a great spoil of cattle, he was pursued and over- 
taken by an army of Ulstermen under the com- 
mand of Conor, and a battle was fought between 
them. The Connaught chief contrived to separate 
the king from his party, and watching his oppor- 
tunity he cast the ball at him from his tabhall or 
sling ; and the ball struck the king on the head, 
and lodged in his skull. His physician, Fingen, 
was brought, and he declared that the king would 
die immediately if the ball were removed ; but 
that if it were left so, and provided the king kept 
himself free from all inquietude, he would live. 

And his head was stitched up with a golden 
thread, and he lived in this state for seven years, 
till the day of our Lord's crucifixion ; when ob- 
serving the unusual darkness, he sent for Bacrach, 
his druid, and asked Him what it meant. Bacrach 
told him that the Son of God was on that day 
crucified by the Jews. " That is a pity," said 
Conor ; " were I in his presence, I would slay those 
who were around my king, putting him to death." 
And with that he rushed at a grove that stood 
near, and began hewing it with his sword, to show 
how he would deal with the Jews ; and from the 
excessive fury which seized him, the ball started 
from his head, and some of his brain gushed out ; 
and in that way he died. 

The place where Conor was wounded was called 
Ath-an-urchair, the ford of the cast ; which 
Michael O'Clery, in a fly-leaf note in O'Clery's 
Calendar, identifies with Ath-an-urchair or Ard- 
nurcher in Westmeath (see O'Curry's Lect., p. 

1 70 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

Many other legendary exploits of the heroic 
times are commemorated in local names, as well 
as casts of a spear. A favourite mode of exhibit- 
ing physical activity among the ancients, as well 
as the moderns, was by a leap ; but if we are to 
believe in the prodigious bounds ascribed by legend 
to some of our forefathers, the members of our 
athletic clubs may well despair of competing with 
them. The word ttim, a leap, will be discussed 
hereafter, but I may remark here that it is gene- 
rally applied to these leaps of the ancient heroes. 

The legend that gave name to Loop Head in 
Clare is still well remembered by the people. 
Cuchullin [Cuhullin], the chief of the Red 
Branch knights of Ulster, endeavouring once to 
escape from a woman named Mai, by whom he 
was pursued, made his way southwards to the ex- 
tremity of the county of Clare, where he un- 
happily found himself in a cul-de-sac, with the 
furious termagant just behind him. There is a 
little rock called Bullan-na-le'ime (leap rock), 
rising over the waves, about twenty-five feet 
beyond the cape, on which the chief alighted with 
a great bound from the mainland ; and the woman, 
nothing daunted by the raging chasm, sprang 
after him; when, exerting all his strength, he 
leaped back again to the mainland a much more 
difficult feat than the first and his pursuer, at- 
tempting to follow him, fell short into the boiling 
sea. Hence the cape was called L6im- Chonchuillinn, 
Cuchullin's Leap, which is the name always used 
by ancient Irish writers, as for instance by the 
Four Masters ; afterwards it was more commonly 
called, as it is at the present day in Irish, Ceann- 
Ltime [Canleama], the head of the leap, or Leap 
Head, which seems to have been modified into 
the present name Loop Head by the Danes of the 

CHAP, iv.] Legends. 171 

lower Shannon : Danish hlaup, a leap. The 
woman's body was swept northwards by the tide, 
and was found at the southern point of the clifEu 
of Moher, which was therefore called Ceann cail- 
lighe [Cancallee] or Hag's Head: moreover the 
sea all along was dyed with her blood, and it was 
called Tonn-Mal or Mai's Wave, but it is now 
known by the name of Mai Bay. Ceann-Ltime is 
also the Irish name of Slyne Head in Galway ; 
but I do not know the legend, if there be one 
(see page 82, supra). 

There are several places whose names contain 
this word Uim in such a way as to render it prob- 
able that they are connected with legends. Such 
for example is Leamirlea in the parish of KilmaJ.- 
kedar, Kerry, Leim-fhir-kith, the leap of the 
grey man ; Leamydoody and Leamyglissan in 
Kerry, and Lemybrien in Waterford ; which 
mean, respectively, O'Dowd's, O'Gleeson's, and 
O'Brien's leap ; Carrigleamleary near Mallow, 
which is called in the Book of Lismore, Carraig- 
leme-Laeguiri, the rock of Laeghaire's or Leary's 
leap. Leap Castle in King's County, near Ros- 
crea, the ruins of which are still to be seen, is 
called by the Four Masters Leim-ui-Bhanain 
[Leamyvannan], O'Banan's leap. 

The name of Lough Derg, on the Shannon, re- 
minds us of the almost unlimited influence of the 
bards in old times, of the merciless way in which 
they often exercised it, and the mingled feelings 
of dread and reverence with which they were re- 
garded by all, both nobles and people. This great 
and long- continued power, which some of the 
Irish monarchs found it necessary to check by 
severe legislation, is an undoubted historic fact ; 
and the legend transmits a very vivid picture of 
it, whether the circumstance it records happened 

172 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART 11. 

or not. It is one of the incidents in an ancient 
tale called Talland Etair, or the Siege of Howth 
(see O'Curry's Lect., p. 266). 

Aithirne [Ahirny], a celebrated Ulster poet of 
the time of Conor mac Nessa, once undertook a 
journey through Ireland, and of every king 
through whose territories he passed, he made the 
most unreasonable and outrageous request he could 
think of, none of whom dared refuse him. Eochy 
mac Luchta was at that time king of south Con- 
naught and Thomond, and had but one eye. The 
malicious poet, when leaving his kingdom, asked 
him for his eye, which the king at once plucked 
out and gave him ; and then desiring his atten- 
dant to lead him down to the lake, on the shore of 
which he had his residence, he stooped down and 
washed the blood from his face. The attendant 
remarked to him that the lake was red with his 
blood ; and the king thereupon said : " Then 
Loch-Dergdherc [Dergerk] shall be its name for 
ever ; " and so the name remains. The lake is 
called by this name, which signifies " the lake of 
the red eye," in all our old authorities, and the 
present name Lough Derg is merely a contraction 
of the original. 

In the parish of Kilgobban in Kerry, about 
eight miles west of Tralee, is situated the beauti- 
ful valley of Glannagalt ; and it was believed not 
only in Kerry, but over the whole of Ireland, 
wherever the glen was known, that all lunatics, 
no matter in what part of the country, would ul- 
timately, if left to themselves, find their way to 
this glen to be cured. Hence the name, Gkann- 
na-ngealt, the valley of the lunatics. There are 
two wells in the glen, called Tobernagalt, the 
lunatics' well, to which the madmen direct their 
way, crossing the little stream that flows through 

CHAP, iv.] Legends. 173 

the valley, at a spot called Ahagaltaun, the mad- 
man's ford, and passing by Cloghnagalt, the 
standing stone of the lunatics ; and they drink of 
the healing waters, and eat some of the cresses 
that grow on the margin ; the water and the 
cress, and the secret virtue of the valley will re- 
store the poor wanderers to sanity. 

The belief that gave origin to these strange 
pilgrimages, whatever may have been its source, 
is of great antiquity. In the ancient Fenian tale 
called Cath Finntragha, or "The battle of 
Ventry," we are told that Dara Dornmar, " The 
monarch of the world," landed at Ventry to sub- 
jugate Erin, the only country yet unconquered ; 
and Finn-mac- Cumhail and his warriors marched 
southwards to oppose him. Then began a series 
of combats, which lasted for a year and a day, and 
Erin was successfully defended against the inva- 
ders. In one of these conflicts, Gall, the son of 
the king of Ulster, a youth of fifteen, who had 
come to Finn's assistance, " having entered the 
battle with extreme eagerness, his excitement soon 
increased to absolute frenzy, and after having per- 
formed astounding deeds of valour, he fled in a 
state of derangement from the scene of slaughter, 
and never stopped till he plunged into the wild 
seclusion of this valley" (O'Curry, Lect., p. 315). 
O'Curry seems to say that Gall was the first 
lunatic who went there, and that the custom 
originated with him. 

There is another legend, well known in Do- 
negal, which accounts for the name of Lough 
Finn, and of the river Finn, which issues from 
it and joins the Mourne near Lifford. The 
following is the substance, as taken down from the 
peasantry by O'Donovan ; but there is another and 
somewhat different version in " The Donegal 

174 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

Highlands." Finn Mac Cumhail once made a 
great feast in the Finn Valley, and sent two of his 
heroes, Gaul and Fergoman, to bring him a fierce 
bull .that grazed on the borders of the lake. On 
their way they fell in with a litter of young pigs, 
which they killed and left there, intending to call 
for them on their way back, and bring them for 
the feast ; but Finn who had a foreknowledge of 
some impending evil, ascended a hill, and with a 
mighty voice, called to the heroes to return by a 
different route. 

They returned each with his half of the bull ; 
Gaul obeyed Finn's injunction, but Fergoman, 
disregarding it, approached the spot where he had 
left the litter, and saw an enormous wild sow, the 
mother of the brood, standing over their bodies. 
She immediately rushed on him to revenge their 
death, and a furious fight began, the sow using 
her tusks, the warrior his spear. 

Fergoman had a sister named Finn, who was 
as warlike as himself ; and after long fighting, 
when he was lacerated by the sow's tusks and in 
danger of death, he raised a great shout for his 
sister's help. She happened to be standing at the 
same side of the lake, but she heard the echo of 
the shout from the cliffs on the opposite side ; she 
immediately plunged in, and swam across, but as 
she reached the shore, the voice came from the 
side she had left, and when she returned, the 
echo came resounding again from the opposite 
cliffs. And so she crossed and recrossed, till the 
dreadful dying shouts of Fergoman so over- 
whelmed her with grief and terror, that she sank 
in the middle of the lake and was drowned. Hence 
it was called Loch Finne, the lake of Finn, and 
gave also its name to the river. 

The place where the heroes killed the young 

CHAP, iv.] Legends. 175 

pigs, and where Fergoman met his fate, is still 
called Meenanall, in Irish Min-an-dil, the meen or 
mountain flat of the litter ; and the wild sow gave 
name to Lough Muck, the lake of the pig, lying a 
little south of Lough Finn. 

Whatever may be thought of this wild legend, 
it is certain that the lake received its name from 
a woman named Finn, for it is always called iu 
Irish Loch Finn&, which bears only one interpre- 
tation, Finn's or Finna's lake ; and this is quite 
consistent with the name given by Adamnan to 
the river, namely, Finda. The suggestion some- 
times put forth, that the name was derived from 
the word^ww, white or clear, is altogether out of 
the question ; for the waters of both, so far from 
being clear, are from their source all the way 
down to Lifford, particularly remarkable for their 
inky blackness. 

Among the many traditions handed down by 
the Irish people, none are more universal than 
that of the bursting forth of lakes. Almost every 
considerable lake in Ireland has its own story of 
an enchanted well, which by the fatal neglect of 
some fairy injunction, or on account of an affront 
offered to its guardian spirit, suddenly overflowed 
the valley, and overwhelmed the inhabitants with 
their cattle and their houses in one common ruin. 

Nor is this tradition of recent origin, for we 
find lake eruptions recorded in our most ancient 
annals ; and nearly all the principal lakes in Ire- 
land are accounted for in this manner. There is 
one very remarkable example of an occurrence of 
this kind an undoubted fact in comparatively 
recent times, namely, in the year 1490 ; at which 
year the Four Masters record : " There was a 
great earthquake (maidhm talmhan, an eruption of 
the earth) at Sliabh Gamh (the Ox Mountains). 

176 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART 11. 

by which a hundred persons were destroyed, 
inong whom was the son of Manus Crossagh 
O'Hara. Many horses and cows were also killed 
by it, and much putrid fish was thrown up ; and 
a lake in which fish is [now] caught sprang up in 
the place." This lake is now dried up, but it has 
left its name on the townland of Moymlough, in 
Irish Maidhm-loch, the erupted lake, in the parish 
of Killoran, county of Sligo ; and a vivid tradi- 
tion of the event still prevails in the county 
(see O'Donovan's Four Masters, Vol. IV., p. 

I will digress here for a moment to remark that 
the word madhm [maum or moym] is used in the 
western counties from Mayo to Kerry, and espe- 
cially in Connemara, to denote an elevated moun- 
t*on pass or chasm ; in which application the 
primary sense of breaking or bursting asunder is 
maintained. This is the origin of the several 
places called Maum in these counties, some of which 
are well known to tourists such as Maum 
Hotel ; Maumturk, the pass of the boars ; Mauma- 
keogh, the pass of the mist, &c. In Mayo we 
find Maumnaman, the pass of the women; in 
Kerry Maumnahaltora, of the altar ; and in Fer- 
managh Mullanvaum, the summit of the elevated 

The origin of Lough Erne in Fermanagh, is 
pretty fully stated in the Annals of the Four 
Masters ; and it is also given in the Book of 
Invasions, and in O'Flaherty's Ogygia. Fiacha 
Labhruinne [Feeha Lavrinna] was king of Ire- 
land from A. M. 3727 to 3751 ; and it is related that 
he gained several battles during his reign, in one 
of which he defeated the Ernai, a tribe of Fir- 
bolgs, who dwelt on the plain now covered by the 
lake. "After the battle was gained from them, 

CHAP, iv.] Legends. 177 

the lake flowed over them, so that it was from 
them the lake is named [Loch Eirne~\, that is a 
lake over the Ernai." 

Our most ancient records point to the eruption 
of Lough Neagh as having occurred in the end of 
the first century. From the universality of the 
tradition, as well as its great antiquity, it seems 
highly probable that some great inundation actu- 
ally occurred about the time mentioned. Giraldus, 
who evidently borrowed the story from the native 
writers, relates that it was formed by the over- 
flowing of a fairy fountain, which had been 
accidentally left uncovered ; and mentions what 
the people will tell you to this day, that the 
fishermen sometimes see the lofty and slender 
ecclesiastic turres, or round towers, beneath its 
waters a belief which Moore has embalmed in 
the well-known lines : 

" On Lough Neagh's banks as the fisherman strays, 

When the clear cold eve's declining, 

He sees the round towers of other days 

In the wave beneath him shining." 

The ancient name of the territory now covered 
by the lake, was Liathmhuine [Leafony: grey 
shrubbery], and it was taken possession of by a 
Munster chieftain named Eochy Mac Maireda, 
after he had expelled the previous inhabitants. 
He occupied the plain at the time of the eruption, 
and he and all his family were drowned, except 
one daughter and two sons. Hence the lake was 
called Loch-nEchach [Lough Neagh], i. e. Eochy's 
lake, which is its name in all our ancient writings, 
and of which the present name has preserved the 
sound, a little shortened. The N which now 
forms the first letter does not belong to the word ; 
it is what is sometimes called the prosthetic n, 
VOL. i. 13 

178 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

and is a mere grammatical accident. The name 
often occurs without it ; for instance, in the Book of 
Leinster it is given both ways Loch-nEthach, 
and Loch-Echach ; and we find it spelled Lough 
Eaugh in Camden, as well as in many of the mapa 
of the 16th and 17th centuries. 

This eruption is mentioned in an ancient poem, 
published by Dr. Todd (Irish Nennius, p 267) 
from the Book of Leinster ; and from this also it 
appears that Linnmhuine [Linwinny], the linn or 
lake of the shrubbery, in allusion to the old name 
of the territory, was another name for the lake : 

" Eochy Maireda, the rebellious son, 

Of wonderful adventure, 
Who was overwhelmed in lucid Linnmhuine, 
With the clear lake over him." 

Eochy's daughter, Liban, is the subject of an 
exceedingly wild legend, for which see Joyce's 
" Old Celtic Romances," p. 97. 



IT is very probable that the belief in the exist- 
ence of fairies, so characteristic of the Celtic race 
of these countries, came in with the earliest colo- 
nies. On this question, however, I do not intend 
to enter : it is sufficient to observe here that the 
belief, in all its reality, is recorded in the oldest of 
our native writings, and that with a distinctness 
and circumstantiality that prove it to have been, 
at the time of which they treat, long established 
and universallv received. 

CHAP, v.] Fairies, Demons, Goblins, and Ghosts. 179 

It was believed that these supernatural beings 
dwelt in habitations in the interior of pleasant 
hills, which were called by the name of sidh or 
sith [shee]. Colgan's explanation of this term is 
so exact, and he gives such an admirable epitome 
of the superstition respecting the sidh and its 
inhabitants, that I will here translate his words : 
" Fantastical spirits are by the Irish called men 
of the sidh, because they are seen as it were to 
come out of beautiful hills to infest men ; and 
hence the vulgar belief that they reside in certain 
subterraneous habitations within these hills ; and 
these habitations, and sometimes the hills them- 
selves, are called by the Irish sidhe or siodha" 

In Colgan's time the fairy superstition had de- 
scended to the common people the vulgus; for 
the spread of the Faith, and the influence of 
education, had disenthralled the minds of the better 
classes. But in the fifth century, the existence of 
the DuinS sidhe [dinna-shee ; people of the fairy 
mansions], was an article of belief with the high 
as well as with the low ; as may be inferred from 
the following curious passage in the Book of 
Armagh, where we find the two daughters of 
Laeghaire [Leary], king of Ireland, participating 
in this superstition : " Then St. Patrick came to 
the well which is called Clebach, on the side of 
Cruachan towards the east; and before sunrise 
they (Patrick and his companions) sat down near 
the well. And lo! the two daughters of king 
Laeghaire, Ethnea the fair and Fedelma the ruddy, 
came early to the well to wash, after the manner 
of women ; and they found near the well a synod 
of holy bishops with Patrick. And they knew 
not whence they came, or in what form, or from 
what people, or from what country: but they 
supposed them to be DuinS sidhe, or gods of the 

180 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

earth, or a phantasm" (Todd's Life of St Patrick, 
p. 452). Dr. Todd adds in a note : "Duing sidhe, 
the men of the sidhe, or phantoms, the name given 
by the Irish to the fairies men of the hills ; the 
word sidlw or siodha signifies the habitations sup- 
posed to belong to these aerial beings, in the hollows 
of the hills and mountains. It is doubtful whether 
the word is cognate with the Lat. sedes, or from 
a Celtic root, side, a blast of wind." 

The belief of king Laeghaire's daughters re- 
garding these aerial beings, as related in a MS. 
copied in the year 807, is precisely the same as it 
was in the time of Colgan, and the superstition 
has descended to our own time in all its integrity. 
Its limits are indeed further circumscribed ; but 
at the present day the peasantry in remote dis- 
tricts believe that the fairies inhabit the sidhe, 01 
hills, and that occasionally mortals are favoured 
with a view of their magnificent palaces. 

To readers of modern fairy lore, the banshee ia 
a well-known spirit : Irish bean-sidhe, woman of 
the fairy mansions. Many of the old Milesian 
families are attended by a banshee, who foretells 
and laments the approaching death of a member 
of the favoured race by keening round the house in 
the lonely night. Numberless banshee stories are 
related with great circumstantiality, by the pea- 
santry all over Ireland, several of which are 
preserved in Crofton Croker's fairy legends. 

In our old authorities it is very often stated 
that the fairies are the Dedannans ; and the 
chiefs of this race such as the Dagda, Bove 
Derg, &c. are frequently referred to as the archi- 
tects and inhabitants of the sidhe. For example, 
in a copy of the "History of the Cemeteries'' 
contained in the MS. H. 3. 17, T.C.D., the fol- 
lowing statement occurs relating to the death oJ 

CHAP: v.] Fairies, t)emons, Goblins, and Ghosts. 181 

Cormac mac Art : " Or it was the siabhra [shee- 
vra] that killed him, i. e. the Tuatha de Dananns, 
for they were called siabhras." In some cases, 
however, the sidhe were named after the chiefs of 
the Milesian colony, as in case of Sidh-Aedha 
at Bally shannon (see page 183) ; but at present 
the Dedannan origin of these aerial beings 
seems to be quite forgotten ; for almost all raths, 
cashels and mounds the dwellings, forts, and 
sepulchres of the Firbolgs and Milesians, as well 
as those of the Dedannans are considered as 
fairy haunts, 

Of this ancient Dedannan people our know- 
ledge is very scant indeed ; but, judging from 
many very old tales and references in our MSS., 
and from the works supposed to be executed 
by this race, of which numerous remains still 
exist sepulchral mounds, gracefully formed spear- 
heads, &c. we may conclude that they were a 
people of superior intelligence and artistic skill, 
and that they were conquered and driven into 
remote districts, by the less intelligent but more 
warlike Milesian tribes who succeeded them. Their 
knowledge and skill procured for them the repu- 
tation of magicians; and the obscure manner in 
which they were forced to live after their subju- 
gation, in retired and lonely places, gradually 
impressed the vulgar with the belief that they were 
supernatural beings. 

It is not probable that the subjugation of the 
Dedannans, with the subsequent belief regarding 
them, was the origin of Irish fairy mytholgy. 
The superstition, no doubt, existed long previously; 
and this mysterious race, having undergone a 
gradual deification, became confounded and identi- 
fied with the original local gods, and ultimately 
superseded them altogether. 

182 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

The most ancient and detailed account of their 
final dispersion is found in the Book of Fermoy, 
a MS. of the year 1463 ; where it is related 
in the tale of Curchog, daughter of Manannan 
Mac Lir that the Dedannans, after the two dis- 
astrous battles of Tailtenn and Druim Lighean, 
held a meeting at Bruga on the Boyne, under the 
presidency of Manannan ; and by his advice they 
distributed and quartered themselves on the plea- 
sant hills and plains of Erin. Bodhbh [Bove] 
Derg, son of the Dagda, was chosen king; and 
Manannan, their chief counsellor, arranged the dif- 
ferent places of abode for the nobles among the 

Several of the sidhs mentioned in this narrative 
are known, and some of them are still celebrated 
as fairy haunts. Sidh Buidhbh [Boov], with Bove 
Derg for its chief, was on the shore of Lough 
Derg, somewhere near Portumna. Several hills 
in Ireland, noted fairy haunts, took their names 
from this chief, and others from his daughter, 
Bugh [Boo]. One of the former is Knockavoe 
near Strabane. The Four Masters mention it at 
A.D. 1522, as " Cnoc-Buidhbh, commonly called 
Cnoc-an-Bhogha ; " which shows that the former 
was the correct old name, and that it had been 
corrupted in their time to Cnoc-an-Bhogha, which 
is its present Irish name, and which is represented 
in sound by the anglicised form, Knockavoe. They 
mention it again at 1557 ; and here they give it 
the full name Cnoc-Buidhbh-Derg, Bove-Derg'shill. 
It was probably the same old chief who left his 
name on Raf wee in the parish of Killeany in Gal- 
way ; which in an ancient authority quoted by 
Hardiman (lar C. 370), is called Rath-Buidhbh, 
B^ve's fort. From his daughter is named Canbo, 
in the parish of Killummod, Roscommon, which 

CHAP, v.] Fairies, Demons, Goblins, and Ghosts. 83 

Duald Mac Firbis writes Ceann-Bugha, i. e. Bugh's 
head or hill. 

Sidh Truim, under the guardianship of Midir, 
was situated a little to the east of Slane, on 
the Boyne, but its name and legend are now 
forgotten. Sidh Neannta, under Sidhmall, is now 
called Mullaghshee or Fairymount, and is situated 
in the parish of Kilgeffin, near Lanesborough, in 
the county Roscommon. Sidh Meadha [Ma], ovei 
which presided Finnbharr [Finvar], is the well- 
known mountain now called Knockma, five miles 
south west of Tuam ; the tradition respecting it is 
still preserved in all its vividness ; and the exploits 
of Finvara, its guardian fairy, are celebrated all 
over Ireland. 

Sidh Aedha Ruaidh, another of these celebrated 
fairy resorts is the hill now called Mullaghshee, 
on which the modern church is built, at Bally- 
shannon in Donegal. The Book of Leinster and 
other ancient authorities relate that Aedh-Ruadh 
[Ay-roo],the father of Macha, founder of Emania 
(see p. 89), was drowned in the cataract at Bally- 
shannon, which was thence called after him, 
Eas-Ruaidh, or Eas- Aedha- Ruaidh [Assroo, Assay- 
roo], Aedh Ruadh's waterfall, now shortened 
to Assaroe. He was buried over the cataract, in 
the mound which was called from him Sidh 
Aedha a name still partly preserved in Mullagh 
shee, the hill of the sidh or fairy palace. 

This hill has recently been found to contain sub- 
terranean chambers, which confirms our ancient 
legendary accounts, and shows that it is a greai 
sepulchral mound like those on the Boyne. How 
few of the people of Ballyshannon know that the 
familiar name Mullaghshee is a living memoria 
of those dim ages when Aedh Ruadh held sway, 
and that the great king himself has slept here in 

184 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

his dome-roofed dwelling for more than two thou- 
sand years ! 

These are a few illustrations of the extent to 
which tho fairy mythology was accepted in Ire- 
land in remote ages But, even if history were 
wholly silent regarding the former prevalence of 
this belief, it would be sufficiently attested by the 
great numbers of places, scattered all over the 
country, whose names contain the word sidh, or, 
as it is usually modernised, shee. It must be borne 
in mind that every one of these places was once 
firmly believed to be a fairy mansion, inhabited by 
those mysterious beings, and that in case of many 
of them, the same superstition lurks at this day in 
the minds of the peasantry. 

Sidh, as we have seen, was originally applied to 
a fairy palace, and it was afterwards gradually 
transferred to the hill, and ultimately to the fairies 
themselves ; but this last transition must have 
begun at a very early period, for we find it ex- 
pressly stated in a passage in the Leabhar-na- 
hTJidhre, that the ignorant called the fairies side. 
At the present day, the word generally signifies a 
fairy, but the diminutive sidheog [sheeoge] is more 
commonly employed. When sidh forms part of a 
name, it is often not easy to determine whether 
it means the fairies themselves or their habitations. 

Shee and its modifications constitute or begin 
the names of about seventy townlands, which are 
pretty equally distributed over the four provinces, 
very few being found, however, in the counties of 
Louth, Dublin, and Wicklow. Besides these, 
there are many more places whose names contain 
this word in the middle or end ; and there are in- 
numerable fairy hills and forts through the 
country, designated by the word shee, which have 
not communicated their names to townlands. 

CHAP, v.] Fairies, Demons, Goblins, and Ghosts. 185 

Sidh-dhruim [Sheerim], fairy ridge the old 
name of the Rock of Cashel and of several other 
ancient fairy haunts is still the name of six 
townlands in Armagh under the modern form 
Sheetrim ; the change from d to t (in druim) must 
have begun a long time ago, for Sidh-druim is 
written Sith-truim in Torna Eigas's poem (" Hy 
Fiachrach," p. 29) : Sheerevagh, in Roscommon 
and Sligo, grey shee ; Sheegorey near Boyle, the 
fairy hill of Guaire or Gorey, a man's name. 
There is a townland in the parish of Corbally, 
Tipperary, called the Sheehys, or in Irish Na 
sithe [na sheeha], i. e. the fairy mounts ; and a range 
of low heights south of Trim in Meath, is well 
known by the name of the Shee hills, i. e. the f airy 

There is a famous fairy palace on the eastern 
shoulder of Slievenaman mountain in Tipperary. 
According to a metrical romance contained in the 
Book of Lismore and other authorities, the De- 
dannan women of this sidh enchanted Finn mac 
Cumhail and his Fianna ; and from these women 
the mountain took its name. It is now called in 
Irish, Sliabh-na-mban-fionn, which would signify 
the mountain of the fair-haired women ; but 
O'Donovan shows that the true name is Slidbh-na- 
mban-Feimhinn [Slievenamon Fevin], the moun- 
tain of the women of Feimhenn, which was an 
ancient territory coextensive with the barony of 
Iffa and Offa East ; and this was shortened to the 
present name, Sliabh-na-mban, or Slievenaman. 

The word occurs still more frequently in the 
end of names ; and in this case it may be generally 
taken to be of greater antiquity than the part of 
the name that precedes it. There is a parish in 
Longford called Killashee, which was probably so 
called because the church was built near or on the 

186 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

site of one of these mounts. Killashee in Kildare, 
has however a different origin. Cloonshee near 
Elphin in the county Roscommon, is called by the 
Four Masters Cluain-sithe, fairy meadow ; and 
there are several other places of the same name. 
Rashee in Antrim, where St. Patrick is recorded 
to have founded a church, is in Irish Rath-sithe 
/ Four Masters), the fort of the fairies; and the 
good people must have often appeared, at some 
former period, to the inhabitants of those places 
now called Ballynashee and Ballynasheeoge, the 
town of the fairies. 

The word sidh undergoes several local modifica- 
tions ; for example, Knocknasheega near Cappoquin 
in Waterford, is called in Irish Cnoc-na-sige, the 
hill of the fairies ; and the name of Cheek Point 
on the Suir below Waterford, is merely an adap- 
tation from Sheega point; for the Irish name is 
P6inte-na-sige [Pointa-na-sheega], the point of the 
fairies. The townland of Sheegys (i. e. fairy hills) 
in the parish of Kilbarron, Donegal, was once no 
doubt a favourite resort of fairies ; and on its 
southern boundary, near high-water mark, there 
is a mound called Mulnasheefrog, the hill of the 
fairy dwellings. In the parish of Aghanagh, 
Sligo, there are two townlands, called Cuilshee- 
ghary, which the people call in Irish, Coittsioth- 
chaire, the fairies' wood, for a large wood formerly 
stood there. 

While sidheog means a fairy, the other diminu- 
tive sidhedn [sheeawn] is always applied to a fairy 
mount. The word is used in this sense all over 
Ireland, but it is particularly common in Con- 
naught, where these sheeauns are met with in great 
numbers ; they are generally beautiful green round 
hillocks, with an old fort on the summit. Their 
numbers would lead one to believe that in old 

CHAP, v.] Fairies, Demons, Goblins, and Ghosts. 187 

times, some parts of Connaught must have been 
more thickly peopled with fairies than with men. 

Great numbers of places have taken their names 
from these haunted hills ; and the word assumes 
various forms, such as Sheaun, Sheehaun, Sheean, 
and Shean, which give names to about thirty 
townlands scattered through the four provinces. 
It is not unfrequently changed to Sion, as in the 
parish of Laraghbryan in Kildare, where the place 
now so called evidently took its name from a 
sheeaun, for it is written Shiane in an Inquisition 
of James I. ; and there are several other instances 
of this odd corruption. Near Ballybay in Mona- 
ghan, is a place called Shane, another form of the 
word ; and the plural Shanes, fairy hills, occurs 
in the parish of Loughguile, Antrim. Sheena in 
Leitrim, Sheeny in Meath and Fermanagh, and 
Sheeana in Wicklow, are different forms of the 
Irish plural sidhne [sheena], fairy hills. 

The sound of the s is often eclipsed by t (p. 
23), and this gives rise to further modifications. 
There is a castle called Ballinteean giving name 
to a townland in the parish of Ballysakeery, 
Mayo, which is written by Mac Firbis, Baile-an- 
tsiodhain, the town of the fairy hill; the same 
name occurs near Ballinrobe in the same county 
and in the parish of Kilglass, Sligo : in Down 
and Kildare it takes the form of Ballintine ; and 
that this last name is derived from sidhean is 
shown by the fact that Ballintine near Blaris in 
Down is written Shiane in an Inquisition of James 
I. Aghintain near Clogher in Tyrone, would be 
written in the original, Achadh-an-tsiadhain 
[Aghanteean], the field of the fairy mount. 

Most of the different kinds of fairies, so well 
known at the present day to those acquainted with 
the Irish peasantry, have also been commemorated 

188 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

in local names. A few of those I will here briefly 
mention, but the subject deserves more space than 
I can afford.* 

The Pooka Irish puca is an odd mixture of 
merriment and malignity ; his exploits form the 
subject of innumerable legendary narratives ; and 
every literary tourist who visits our island, seems 
to consider it a duty to record some new story of 
this capricious goblin. Under the name of Puck, 
he will be recognised as the " merry wanderer of 
the night," who boasts that he can " put a girdle 
round about the earth in forty minutes ; " and the 
genius of Shakspeare has conferred on him a kind 
of immortality he never expected. 

There are many places all over Ireland where 
the Pooka is still well remembered, and where, 
though he has himself forsaken his haunts, he 
has left his name to attest his former reign of 
terror. One of the best known is Pollaphuca in 
Wicklow, a wild chasm where the Liffey falls 
over a ledge of rocks into a deep pool, to which 
the name properly belongs, signifying the pool or 
hole of the Pooka. There are three townlands in 
Clare, and several other places in different parts 
of the country, with the same name; they are 
generally wild lonely dells, caves, chasms in rocks 
on the seashore, or pools in deep glens like that 
in Wicklow all places of a lonely character, 
suitable haunts for this mysterious sprite. The 
original name of Puckstown in the parish of 
Mosstown in Louth, and probably of Puckstown, 
near Artaine in Dublin, was Pollaphuca, of which 
the present name is an incorrect translation. 
Boheraphuca (boher, a road) four miles north of 
Roscrea in Tipperary, must have been a dangerous 

* See Crofton Croker's " Irish Fairy Legends," and Wilde'a 
" Irish Popular Superstitions." 

CHAP. v.~| Fairies, Demons, Goblins, and Ghosts. 189 

place to pass at night, in days of old. Carriga- 
phooca (the Pooka's rock) two miles west of 
Macroom, where on the top of a rock overhanging 
the Sullane, stand the ruins of the Mac Carthy's 
castle, is well known as the place whence Daniel 
O'Rourke began his adventurous voyage to the 
moon on the back of an eagle ; and here for many 
a generation the Pooka held his " ancient solitary 
reign," and played pranks which the peasantry 
will relate with minute detail. 

About half way between Kilfinane in Limerick, 
and Mitchelstown in Cork, the bridge of Aha- 
phuca crosses the Ounageeragh river at the junc- 
tion of its two chief branches, and on the boundary 
of the two counties. Before the erection of the 
bridge, this was a place of evil repute, and not 
without good reason, for on stormy winter nights, 
many a traveller was swept off by the flood in 
attempting to cross the dangerous ford; these 
fatalities were all attributed to the malice of the 
goblin that haunted the place ; and the name 
the Pooka's ford still reminds us of his deeds of 

He is often found lurking in raths and lisses ; 
and accordingly there are many old forts through 
the country called Lissaphuca and Rathpooka, 
which have, in some cases, given names to town- 
lands. In the parish of Kilcolman in Kerry, are 
two townlands called Rathpoge on the Ordnance 
map, and Rathpooke in other authorities 
evidently Rathpuca, the Pooka's rath. Sometimes 
his name is shortened to pook or puck ; as, for 
instance, in Castlepook, the goblin's castle, a black, 
square, stern-looking old tower, near Doneraile in 
Cork, in a dreary spot at the foot of the Bally - 
houra hills, as fit a place for a pooka as could be 
conceived. This form is also found in the name 

190 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

of the great moat of Cloghpook in Queen's 
County (written Cloyth-an-puka in a rental book 
of the Earl of Kildare, A. D. 1518), the stone or 
stone fortress of the pooka ; and according to 
O'Donovan, the name of Ploopluck near Naas in 
Kildare, is a corruption a very vile one indeed 
of the same name. 

The word siabhra [sheevra] is now very fre- 
quently employed to denote a fairy, and we have 
found it used in this sense in the quotation at 
page 181 from the "History of the Cemeteries." 
This term appears in the names of several places : 
there is, for example, a townland called Drum- 
sheaver, in the parish of Tedavnet, Monaghan, 
but which is "written in several modern authorities, 
Drumshevery, the ridge of the sheevras ; and they 
must have also haunted Glennasheevar, in the 
parish of Inishmacsaint in Fermanagh. 

Nor is the leprechaun forgotten the merry 
sprite " Whom maids at night, Oft meet in glen 
that's haunted," who will give you the spardn 
scillingS, an inexhaustible fairy purse, if you can 
only manage to hold him spell-bound by an un- 
interrupted gaze. This lively little fellow is 
known by several different names, such as lupra- 
chaun, luricane, lurrigadane, cluricane, luppercadane, 
loughryman, &c. The correct original designation 
from which all these have been corrupted, is 
luchorpan, or as we find it in the MS. H. 2, 16 
(col. 120), lucharban ; from lu, " everything small" 
(Cor. Gl., voce "luda" ), and corpdn, a diminutive 
of corp, a body, Lat. corpus; so that luchorpan 
signifies " an extremely little body " (see Stokes' s 
Cor. Gl. p. 1). There is a good sized lake in 
Donegal, four miles west of Ardara, called Lough 
Nalughraman, the lake of the loughrymam : but 
here the people say the loughryman is a kind of 

CHAP. v.J Fames, Demons, Goblins, and Ghosts. 191 

In the townland of Creevagh, near Cong in 
Mayo, there is a cave called Mullenlupraghaun, 
the leprechauns' mill, " where in former times the 
people left their caskeens of corn at nightfall, and 
found them full of meal in the morning " (Wilde's 
Lough Corrib) ground by the leprechauns. And 
it is certain that they must have long chosen, as 
favourite haunts, Knocknalooricaun (the hill of 
the looricauns), near Lismore in Waterford, and 
Poulaluppercadaun (poul, a hole), near Killorglin 
in Kerry. 

Every one knows that fairies are a merry race 
and that they enjoy immensely their midnight 
gambols ; moreover, it would seem that they in- 
dulge in many of the ordinary peasant pastimes. 
The fairy fort of Lisfarbegnagommaun stands in 
the townland of Knocknagraigue East, four miles 
from Corrofin in Clare ; and whoever cautiously 
approaches it on a calm moonlight night, wiU 
probably see a spectacle worth remembering the 
little inhabitants, in all their glory, playing at the 
game of coman, or hurley. Their favourite 
amusement is told clearly enough in the name 
Lios-fear-beg-na-gcomdn, the fort of the little men 
of the hurlets, that is, of the little hurlers (see 
Aughnagomaun). Sam Lover must have been 
well acquainted with their pastimes when he wrote 
his pretty song, " The fairies are dancing by brake 
and by bower ; '' and indeed he probably saw them 
himself, " lightly tripping o'er the green," in 
one of the many forts, where they indulge in 
their nightly revelry, and which are still called 
Lissarinka, the fort of the dancing (see Skeheena- 

Readers of Crofton Croker will recollect the 
story of the rath of Knockgraffon, and how the 
little man, Lusmore, sitting down to rest himself 

192 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

near the fort, heard a strain of wild music from 
the inside. Knockgraffon is not the only " airy " 
place where the cedlsidhe, or fairy music, is heard : 
in fact this is a very common way of manifesting 
their presence ; and accordingly certain raths in 
the south of Ireland are known by the name of 
Lissakeole, the fort of the music (ceol). Neilson 
(Irish Gram., page 55) mentions a hill in the 
county of Down, called Knocknafeadalea, whist- 
ling hill, from the music of the fairies which was 
often heard to proceed from it ; and the townland 
of Lisnafeddaly in Monaghan, and Lisnafeedy in 
Armagh, both took their names (signifying the 
fort of the whistling : fead or fid, a whistle) from 
lisses, with the same reputation. 

The life of a fairy is not, however, all merri- 
ment. Sometimes the little people of two neigh- 
bouring forts quarrel, and fight sanguinary battles. 
These encounters always take place by night ; the 
human inhabitants are terrified by shrill screams 
and other indescribable noises ; and in the morn- 
ing the fields are strewn with drops of blood, 
little bones, and other relics of the fight. Certain 
forts in some of the northern counties, whose in- 
habitants were often engaged in warfare, have, 
from these conflicts, got the name of Lisnascragh, 
the fort of the screeching (screach}. 

Very often when you pass a lonely fort on a 
dark night, you will be astonished to see a light 
shining from it ; the fairies are then at some work 
of their own, and you will do well to pass on and 
not disturb them. From the frequency of this 
apparition, it has come to pass that many forts 
are called Lisnagannell and Lisnagunnell, the fort 
of the candles ; and in some instances they have 
given names to townlands, as, for example, Lisna- 
gonnell in the county Down; Lisnageenly in 

CHAP, v.] Fairies, Demons, Goblins, and Ghosts. 193 

Tipperary ; Lisgonnell in Tyrone ; and Liscunnell 
in Mayo. We must not suppose that these fearful 
lights are always the creation of the peasant's 
imagination ; no doubt they have been in many 
instances actually seen, and we must attribute 
them to that curious phenomenon, ignis fatuus, or 
Will-o'-the-wisp. But the people will not listen to 
this, for they know well that all such apparitions 
are the work of the good people. 

Fairies are not the only supernatural beings let 
loose on the world by night : there are ghosts, 
phantoms, and demons of various kinds ; and the 
name of many a place still tells the dreaded scenes 
nightly enacted there. The word dealbh [dallivj, 
a shape or image (delb, effigies, Zeuss, 10) is often 
applied to a ghost. The townland of Killeenna- 
gallive in the parish of Templebredon, Tipperary, 
took its name from an old churchyard, where the 
dead must have rested unquietly in their graves ; 
for the name is a corruption (p. 56) of Cillin-na- 
ndealbh, the little church of the phantoms. So 
also Drumnanaliv in Monaghan, and Clondallow 
in Bong's County, the ridge and the meadow of 
the spectres. And in some of the central counties, 
certain clusters of thorn bushes, which have the 
reputation of being haunted, are called by the 
name of Dullowbush (dullow, i. e. dealbh), i. e. the 
phantom bush. 

There is a hideous kind of hobgoblin generally 
met with in churchyards, called a dullaghan, who 
can take off and put on his head at will in fact 
you generally meet him with that member in his 
pocket, under his arm, or absent altogether ; or if 
you have the fortune to light on a number of them 
you may see them amusing themselves by flinging 
their heads at one another, or kicking them for 
footballs. Ballindollaghan in the parish of Bas- 
VOL. i. *4 

194 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

lick, Roscommon, must be a horrible place to live 
in, if the dullaghan that gave it the name ever 
shows himself now to the inhabitants. 

Everyone knows that a ghost without a head is 
very usual, not only in Ireland, but all over the 
world ; and a little lake in the parish of Donagh- 
more in Donegal, four miles south of Stranolar, is 
still called Lough Gillagancan, the headless man's 
lake, from having been haunted by one of these 
visitants (giolla, a fellow ; gan, without ; ceann, a 
head). But I suppose it is only in Ireland you 
could meet with a ghost without a shirt. Several 
of these tasteless fellows must have at some former 
period roamed nightly at large in some of the 
northern counties, where there are certain small 
lakes, which are now called Lough Gillagan- 
leny or Gillaganleane, the lake of the shirtless 
fellow (teine, a shirt) : one for instance, two miles 
east of the northern extremity of Lough Eask, 
near the town of Donegal ; and another in the 
parish of Rossinver in Leitrim, five miles from 
Manorhamilton, and one mile west from the vil- 
lage of Kiltyclogher. 

Glennawoo, a townland in the parish of Kilmac- 
teige, Sligo, must have been, and perhaps is still, 
a ghastly neighbourhood, for the name Gleann-na- 
bhfuath [Glennawoo] signifies the glen of the 
spectres ; and in the parish of Aghavea, Ferman- 
agh, is a place which was doubtless almost as bad, 
viz., Drumarraght, the ridge of the arraght or ap- 
parition. Near the church of Kilnamona in Clare, 
there is a well called Toberatasha ; it is in the 
form of a coffin, and its shape is not more dismally 
suggestive than its name, Tobar-a'-taise, the well 
of the fetch or ghost. What kind of malignant 
beings formerly tormented the people of Druma- 
baire in Leitrim, it is now impossible to tell ; and 

CHAP, v.] Fairies, Demons, Goblins, and Ghosts. 195 

we should be ignorant of their very existence if 
our annalists had not preserved the true form of 
the name Druim-da-ethiar [Drum-a-ehir ; Four 
Masters], the ridge of the two air-demons (eithiar, 
pron. ehir, an air-demon). 

Besides the celebrated fairy haunts mentioned 
at p. 182, there are several other places in different 
parts of Ireland, presided over, each by its own 
guardian spirit, and among them several female 
fairies, or banshees. Some of these are very famous, 
and though belonging to particular places, are cele- 
brated by the bards over the whole of Ireland. 

Cliodhna [Cleena] is the potent banshee that 
rules as queen over the fairies of South Munster ; 
and you will hear innumerable stories among the 
peasantry of the exercise of her powerful spells. 
Edward Walsh makes his lover of " O'Donovan's 
Daughter " thus express himself : 

" God grant 'tis no fay from Knockfierna that woos me ; 
God grant 'tis not Cleena the queen that pursues me ; 
That my soul, lost and lone, has no witchery wrought her, 
While I dream of dark groves and O'Donovan's daughter.' 

In the Dinnsenchus there is an ancient poetical 
love story, of which Cleena is the heroine : wherein 
it is related that she was a foreigner, and that she 
was drowned in the harbour of Glandore, near 
Skibbereen in Cork. In this harbour the sea, at 
certain times, utters a very peculiar, deep, hollow, 
and melancholy roar, among the caverns of the 
cliffs, which was formerly believed to foretell the 
death of a king of the south of Ireland ; and this 
surge has been from time immemorial called Tonn- 
Cleena, Cleena' s wave. Cleena had her palace in 
the heart of a great rock, situated about five miles 
south-south-west from Mallow ; it is still well 
known by the name of Carrig- Cleena, and it ^a.p 
given name to frx) towit j ands. 

196 Historical and Legendary Name*. [PART n, 

Aeibhell [Eevil], or more correctly Aebhinn 
[Eevin], whose name signifies "beautiful," was 
another powerful banshee, and presided over North 
Munster : she was in an especial manner the 
guardian spirit of the Dalcassians. When the 
Dalcassian hero, Dunlang or Dooling O'Hartigan, 
the friend and companion of Murchadh [Murraha], 
Brian Boru's eldest son, was on his way to the 
battle of Clontarf, she met him and tried to dis- 
suade him from fighting that day. For she told 
him that he would fall with Murchadh : and she 
offered him the delights and the immortality of 
Fairyland, if he would remain away. But he re- 
plied that nothing could induce him to abandon 
Murchadh in the day of battle, and that he was 
resolved to go, even to certain death. She then 
threw a magical cloak around him which made 
him invisible, warning him that he would cer- 
tainly be slain if he threw it off. 

He rushed into the midst of the battle, and 
fought for some time by the side of Murchadh, 
making fearful havoc among the Danes. Mur- 
chadh looked round him on every side, and at last 
cried out, " I hear the sound of the blows of Dun- 
lang O'Hartigan, but I cannot see him !" Then 
Dunlang could no longer bear to be hidden from 
the eyes of Murchadh ; and he threw off the cloak, 
and was socn after slain according to the fairy's 

The aged king, Brian, remained in his tent 
during the day. And towards evening the tent 
was left unguarded in the confusion of the battle ; 
and his attendants urged him to mount his horse 
and retire, for he was in danger from straggling 
parties of the Danes. But he answered : "Retreat 
becomes us not, and I know that I shall not leave 
this Dlace alive. For Aeibhell of Craglea came to 

CHAP.V.] Fairies, Demons, Goblins, and Ghosts. 197 

me last night, and told me that I should be killed 
this day" (see Wars of GGK, p. 201). 

Aeibhell had her palace two miles north of Kil- 
laloe, in a rock called Crageevil, but better known 
by the name of Craglea, grey rock. The rock is 
situated in a silent glen, under the face of a moun- 
tain ; and the peasantry affirm that she forsook 
her retreat, when the woods which once covered 
the place were cut down. There is a spring in the 
face of the mountain, still called Tobereevil, 
Aeibhell's well. 

There is a legend common over all Ireland, con- 
nected generally with lakes, that there lives at the 
bottom a monstrous serpent or dragon, chained 
there by a superior power. The imprisonment of 
these demoniac monsters is commonly attributed 
to St. Patrick, who, when he cleared the country 
of demons, chose this mode of disposing of some 
of the most ferocious : and there they must re- 
main till the day of judgment. In some places 
it is said that they are permitted to appear above 
the water, at certain times, generally every seven 
years ; and then the inhabitants hear the clanking 
of chains, or other unearthly noises. 

During the period of St. Patrick's sojourn in 
Connaught, he retired on the approach of Lent to 
the mountain of Croaghpatrick, and there spent 
some time in fasting and prayer. To this histo- 
rical fact has been added a fabulous relation, which 
Jocelin in his Life of St. Patrick, written in the 
twelfth century, appears to have been the first to 
promulgate, but which is now oue of Ireland's 
most celebrated legends, namely, that the saint 
brought together on the top of the mountain all 
the serpents and venomous creatures and demons 
of Ireland, and drove them into the sea. There 
is a deep hollow on the northern face of the moun- 

198 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

tain, called to this day Lugnademon, the lug or 
nollow of the demons, into which they all re- 
treated on their way to final banishment. 

This story, however, is not found in the early 
authentic lives of the saint ; and that it is a com- 
paratively recent invention is evident from the 
fact, that Ireland's exemption from reptiles is 
mentioned by Solinus, who wrote in the third 
century ; and Bede mentions the same fact, but 
without assigning any cause ; whereas, if such a 
remarkable occurrence had been on record, doubt- 
less he would not fail to notice it. 

Legends of aquatic monsters are very ancient 
among the Irish people. We find one mentioned 
by Adamnan (Lib. II., cap. 27), as infesting Loch 
Ness, in Scotland. In the Life of St. Mochua of 
Balla, it is related that a stag which was wounded 
in the chase took refuge in an island in Lough Ree ; 
but that no one dared to follow it "on account of 
a horrible monster that infested the lake, and was 
accustomed to destroy swimmers." A man was at 
last prevailed on to swim across, " but as he was 
returning the beast devoured him." O'Flaherty 
(lar Connaught, c. 19) has a very circumstantial 
story of an " Irish crocodil," that lived at the bot- 
tom of Lough Mask ; and in O'Clery's Calendar 
(p. 145) we read about the upper lake of Glenda- 
lough: "They say that the lake drains in its 
middle, and that a frightful serpent is seen in it, 
and that from fear of it no one ever durst swim 
in the lake." And in some of the very ancient 
tales of the Lebor-na-hUidhre we find heroes 
encountering enormous lake- serpents. 

This legend assumes various forms in individual 
cases, and many are the tales the people can re- 
late of fearful encounters with a monster covered 
Avith long hair and a mane ; moreover, they are 

CHAP, v.] Fairies, Demons, Cfoblins, and Ghosts. 199 

occasionally met with in old castles, lisses, caves, 
&c., as well as in lakes. The. word by which 
they are most commonly designated in modern 
times, ispiast ; we find it in Cormac's Glossary in 
the old Irish form bdist, explained by the Lat. 
bestia, from which it has been borrowed ; and it 
is constantly used in the Lives of the Irish saints, 
to denote a dragon, serpent, or monster. Several 
lakes in different parts of the country are called 
Loughnapiast, or more correctly, Loch-na-peiste, 
each of which is inhabited by a demoniacal ser- 
pent ; and in a river in the parish of Banagher, 
Deny, there is a spot called Lig-na-peiste (Lig, a 
hollow or hole), which is the abode of another. 

When St. Patrick was journeying westward, a 
number of them attempted to oppose his progress 
at a place in the parish of Ardcarn in Roscom- 
mon, which is called to this day Knocknabeast, 
or in Irish, Cnoc-na-bpiast, the hill of the serpents. 
In the parish of Drumhome in Donegal, stands afort 
which gives name to a townland called Lisnapaste ; 
there is another with a similar name in the town- 
land of Gullane, parish of Kilconly, Kerry, in 
which the people say a serpent used to be seen ; 
and near Freshford in Kilkenny, is a well called 
Tobernapeastia, from which a townland takes its 
name. There is a townland near Bailieborough in 
Cavan, called Dundragon, the fort of the dragon, 
where some frightful monster must have formerly 
taken up his abode in the old dun. 

Sometimes the name indicates directly their 
supernatural and infernal character ; as, for in- 
stance, in Pouladown near Watergrasshill in 
Cork, i. e. Poll-a-deamhain, the demon's hole. 
There is a pool in the townland of Killarah, 
parish of Kildallan, Cavan, three miles from 
llaijyconnell, called Loughandoul, or, in Irish, 

200 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n 

Loch-an-diabJiail, the lake of the devil ; and 
Deune Castle, in the parish of Kilconly in Kerry, 
is the demon's castle, which is the signification of 
its Irish name, Caislen-a' -deamhain. 



THE pagan Irish divided their year, in the first 
instance, into two equal parts, each of which was 
afterwards subdivided into two parts or quarters. 
The four quarters were called Earrach, Samhradh, 
Foghmhar, and Geimhridh [Arragh, Sowra, Fowar, 
Gevre] : Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, 
which are the names still in use ; and they began 
on the first days of February, May, August, and 
November, respectively. We have historical tes- 
timony that games were celebrated at the begin- 
ning of Summer, Autumn, and Winter ; and it 
may be reasonably inferred that Spring was also 
ushered in by some sort of festivity. 

The first day of May, which was the beginning of 
the summer half year, was called Bealltaine [Bel- 
tany] ; it is still the name always used by those 
speaking Irish ; and it is well known in Scotland, 
where Beltane has almost taken its place as an 
English word : 

" Ours is no sapling, chance sown by the fountain, 
Blooming at Beltane in winter to fade." 

Tuathal [Thoohal] the Acceptable, king of Ire- 
iand in the first century, instituted the feast of 
Bealltaine at Uisneach, now the hill of Ushnagh in 
Westmeath, where, ever after, the pagan Irish 

CHAP, vi.] Customs, Amusements, Occupations. 201 

celebrated their festivities, and lighted their 
Druidic fires on the first of May ; and from these 
fires, according to Cormac's Glossary, the festival 
derived its name : " Belttaine, i. e. bil-tene, i. e. 
tene-bil, i. e. the goodly fire (tene, fire), i. e. two 
goodly fires which the Druids were used to make, 
with great incantations on them, and they used to 
bring the cattle between them against the diseases 
of each year." 

While Ushnagh was regarded as the chief centre 
of these rites, there were similar observances on 
the same day in other parts of Ireland ; for Keat- 
ing informs us that " upon this occasion they were 
used to kindle two fires in every territory in the 
kingdom, in honour of the pagan god." Down to 
a very recent period these fires were lighted, and 
the May-day games celebrated both in Ireland and 
Scotland ; and even at this day, in many remote 
districts, some relics of the old druidic fire super- 
stitions of May morning still linger among the 

The May-day festivities must have been for- 
merly celebrated with unusual solemnity, and for 
a long succession of generations, at all those places 
now called Beltany, which is merely the angli- 
cised form of Bealltaine. There are two of them 
in Donegal one near Raphoe, and the other in 
the parish of Tulloghobegly ; there is one also 
near Clogher in Tyrone, and andther in the parish 
of Cappagh in the same county. In the parish of 
Kilmore, Armagh, we find Tamnaghvelton, and in 
Donegal, Meenabaltin, both signifying the field of 
the Beltane sports ; and in Lisbalting, in the parish 
of Kilcash, Tipperary, the old lis where the fes- 
tivities were carried on is still to be seen. There 

* See Wilde's Irish Popular Superstitions ; Petrie's Round 
Towers ; and O'Donovan's Introduction to the Book of Rights. 

202 Historical and Legendary Name*. [PART n. 

is a stream joining the River Galey near Athea in 
Limerick, called Glasheennabaultina, the glasheen 
or streamlet of the May-day games. 

One of the Dedannan kings, Lewy of the long 
hand, established a fair or gathering of the 
people, to be held yearly on the 1st day of 
August, at a place on the Blackwater in Meath, 
between Navan and Kells ; in which various games 
and pastimes, as well as marriages, were cele- 
brated, and which were continued in a modified 
form down to the beginning of the present cen- 
tury. This fair was instituted by Lewy in com- 
memoration of his foster-mother, Taillte, who 
was daughter of the king of Spain ; and in honour 
of her he called the place Tailltenn (Tailltee, gen. 
Tailltenri), which is the present Irish name, but 
corrupted in English to Teltown. 

The place still exhibits the remains of raths and 
artificial lakes ; and according to tradition, mar- 
riages were celebrated in one particular hollow, 
which is slill called Lag-an-aenaigh [Laganeany, 
the hollow of the fair]. Moreover, the Irish- 
speaking people all over Ireland still call the first 
of August Lugh-Nasadh [Loonasa], i. e. Lewy 'a 

The first of November was called Samhuin 
[savin or so wan], which is commonly explained 
samh-fhuin, i. e. the end of samh or summer ; and, 
like Bealltaine, it was a day devoted by the 
pagan Irish to religious and festive ceremonials. 
Tuathal also instituted the feast of Samnuin (as 
well as that of BeUtaine see p. 200) ; and < was 
celebrated on that day at Tlachtga, now the Hill 
of Ward near Athboy in Meath, where fires were 
lighted, and games and sports carried on. It was 
also on this day that the Feis or convention of 
Tara was held ; and the festivities were kept up 

CHAP. vi. J Customs, Amusements, Occupations. 203 

three days before and three days after Samhuin. 
These primitive celebrations have descended 
through eighteen centuries ; and even at the pre- 
sent time, on the eve of the first of November, 
the people of this country practise many observ- 
ances which are undoubted relics of ancient pagan 

While the great festival established by Tuathal 
was celebrated at Tlachtga, minor festivities were, 
as in case of the Belltaine, observed on the same 
day in different places through the country ; and 
in several of these the name of Samhuin has re- 
mained as a perpetual memorial of those bygone 
pastimes. Such a place is Knocksouna near Kil- 
mallock in Limerick. The Four Masters, who 
men ion it several times, call it Samhuin a name 
exa ly analogous to Beltany ; while in the Life 
of So Finnchu, in the Book of Lismore, it is called 
Cnoc- Samhna, the hill of Samhuin, which is ex- 
actly represented in pronu iciation by Knocksouna. 
According to this last autk "ity, the hill was more 
anciently called Ard-na-rioghraidhe [reery], the 
hill of the kings ; from all which we may infer 
that it was anciently a place of great notoriety. 
In the parish of Kiltoghert, county Leitrim, there 
is a place with a name having the same significa- 
tion, viz., Knocknasawna ; and a hill two miles 
from Raphoe in Donegal, is called Mullasawny. 
the hill-summit of Samhain. 

It would appear from the preceding names, as 
well as from those that follow, that these meet, 
ings were usually held on hills ; and this was done 
no doubt in imitation of the original festival ; for 
Tlachtga or the hill of "Ward, though not high, is 
very conspicuous over the flat plains of Meath. 
Drumhawan near Bally bay in Monaghan, repre- 
sents the Irish Druim- Shamhuin, the ridge of 

204 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

Samhuin ; and in the parish of Donaghmoyne in 
the same county, is another place called Drumha- 
man, which is the same name, for it is written 
Drumhaven in an old map of 1777 ; in the parish 
of Kilcronaghan, Londonderry, we find a place 
called Drumsamney, and the original pronuncia- 
tion is very well preserved in Drumsawna, in the 
parish of Magheraculmoney, Fermanagh. Car- 
rickhawna \_Carrick, a rock], is found in the 
parish of Toomour in Sligo ; and Gurteenasowna 
\Gfurteen, a little field), near Dunmanway in Cork. 

An assembly of the people, convened for any 
purpose whatever, was anciently called aenach 
[ enagh] ; and it would appear that these as- 
semblies were often held at the great regal c^nae- 
teries. For, first, the names of many o' the 
cemeteries begin with the word aenach, as At-nach- 
Chruachain, Aenach- Taitttenn, Aenach-in-Broga, 
&c. ; and it is said in the " History of the Ceme- 
teries" (Petrie, R. Towers, p. 106), that " there 
are fifty hills [burial mounds] at each Aenach of 
these." Secondly, the double purpose is shown 
very clearly in the accounts of the origin of Carn- 
Amhalgaidh [Awly], near Killala : " Carn- 
Amhalgaidh, i. e. of Amhalgaidh, son of Fiachra- 
Ealgach, son of Dathi, son of Fiachra. It was by 
him that this earn was formed, for the purpose of 
holding a meeting (aenach) of the Hy Amhalgaidh 
around it every year, and to view his ships and 
fleets going and coming, and as a place of inter- 
ment for himself" (Book of Lecan, cited in Petrie's 
R. Towers, p. 107. See p. 139, supra). 

In modern times and in the present spoken 
language, the word aenach is always applied to a 
cattle fair. It is pretty certain that in some cases 
the present cattle fairs are the representatives of 
the ancient popular assemblies, which have con- 

CHAP, vi.] Customs, Amusements, Occupations. 205 

tinued uninterruptedly from age to age, gradually 
changing their purposes to suit the requirements 
of each succeeding generation. This we find in 
the case of Nenagh in Tipperary, which is still 
celebrated for its great fairs. Its most ancient 
name was Aenach-Thete ; and it was afterwards 
called and is still universally called by speakers 
of Irish Aenach- Urmhumhan [Enagh-TJrooan], 
the assembly or assembly-place of Urmhumhan or 
Ormond, which indicates that it was at one time 
the chief meeting-place for the tribes of east 
Munster. The present name is former 1 , by the at- 
traction of the article 'n to Aenach, v i.z., nAenach, 
i. e. the fair, which is exactly represented in pro- 
nunciation by Nenagh (see p. 24). 

This word forms a part of a great number of 
names, and in every case it indicates that a fair 
was formerly held in the place, though in most 
instances these fairs have been long discontinued, 
or transferred to other localities. The usual forms 
in modern names are -eeny, -eena, -enagh, and in 
Cork and Kerry, -eanig. Monasteranenagh in 
Limerick, where the fine ruins of the monastery 
founded by the king of Thomond in the twelfth 
century, still remain, is called by the Four Masters, 
Maini$ter-an-aenaigh, the monastery of the fair. 
But the fair was held there long before the founda- 
tion of the monastery, and down to that time the 
place was called Aenach-beag (Four Mast.), i. e. 
little fair, probably to distinguish it from the 
great fair of Nenagh. 

The simple word Enagh is the name of about 
twenty townlands in different counties, extending 
from Antrim to Cork ; but in some cases, especi- 
ally in Ulster, this word may represent eanach, a 
marsh. The Irish name for Enagh, in the parish 
of Clonlea, county Clare, is Aenagh-O'bhFloinn 

206 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

[Enagh-O-VlinJ, the fair or fair-green of the 

Ballinenagh is the name of a place near New- 
castle in Limerick, and of another in Tipperary, 
while the form Ballineanig is found in Kerry, 
and Ballynenagh in Londonderry all meaning 
the town of the fair : Ardaneanig (arc?, a height), 
is a place near Killarney ; and in Cork and Sligo 
we find Lissaneena and Lissaneeny, the fort of 
the fair. The plural of eanach is aentaigh ; and 
this is well represented in pronunciation hy Eanty 
(-beg and -more), in the parish of Kilcorney in 

In the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, we have 
an interesting notice of one of the ancient tribe 
assemblies. In the saint's progress through Con- 
naught, he visited the assembly place of the tribe 
of Amhalgaidh (Awley : brother of Dathi : see 
p. 139), and preached to a very great multitude ; 
and on that occasion he converted and baptised 
the seven sons of Amhalgaidh, and 12,000 persons. 
This place was called Forrach-mac-nAmhalgaidh 
[Forragh-mac-nawley], i. e. the assembly place of 
Amhalgaidh's clan ; the word Forrach, which 
Tirechan latinises Forrgea, signifying the piece of 
ground on which a tribe were accustomed to hold 
their meetings. According to O'Donovan, this 
name survives, and preserves the identity of this 
interesting spot. About a mile and a half south- 
west f rom Killala, there are two townlands, adjoin- 
ing one another, one called Farragh, which is 
ittle changed from the old form Forrach, as given 
in the Tripartite Life ; and the other which is 
on a hill called Mullafarry, i. e. Mullach For- 

* See Mr. W. M. Hennessy's paper " On the Ourragh of 
Kildare," for much valuable information on the subject of the 
ancient aenachs 

HAP. vi. | Cttstoms, Amusements, Occupations. 207 

raigh, the hill of the meeting-place. There is also 
a hill in the same neighbourhood, called Knock- 
atinnole, Cnoc-a'-tionoil, the hill of the assembly, 
which commemorates gatherings of some kind; 
but whether in connection with the meetings at 
Farragh, or not, it is hard to say, for it lies about 
five miles distant to the south-east, on the shore of 
the Moy. 

The word Forrach or Farrach was employed to 
designate meeting-places in other parts of Ireland 
also ; and we may be pretty sure that this was 
the origin of such names as Farragh in the 
parishes of Denn and Kilmore in Cavan ; Farra 
in the parish of Drumcree, Armagh ; Farrow in 
"Westmeath and Leitrim ; Fvry in Wexford ; 
Furrow near Mitchelstown in Cork ; Gortnafurra 
in the vale of Aherlow in Tipperary, the field of 
the assembly-place ; Farraghroe in Longford, and 
Forramoyle in Galway, the red, and the bald or 
bare meeting-place. 

Nds [nawce] is a word of similar acceptation to 
aenach ; Connac's Glossary explains it a fair or 
meeting-place. This term is not often used, but 
there is one place celebrated in former ages, to 
which it has given name, viz., Naas in Kildare. 
It was the most ancient residence of the kings of 
Leinster ; having been founded, according to bar- 
dic history, by Lewy c I 2 the long hand, who also 
founded Tailltenn in Meath (see p. 202) ; it con 
tinued to be used as a royal residence till the 
tenth century ; and the great mound of the palace 
still remains just outside the town. This word is 
also found in a few other names, all in Leinster ; 
euch as Nash in the parish of Owenduff, Wexford, 
which is still a fair-green ; and Ballynaas in the 
parish of Rathmacnee in the same county. 

The word sluagh f sloo], usually translated host, 

208 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

signifies any multitude, but in the Annals it is 
commonly applied to an army ; it occurs in the 
Zeuss MSS., where it glosses agmen, i. e. a host on 

This word forms a part of the names of several 
places, where great numbers of people must have 
been formerly m the habit of congregating, for 
some purpose. One of the best known is Ballina- 
sloe, on the Galway side of the river Suck. Its 
Irish name as used by the Four Masters, is Bel- 
atha-na-slttaigheadh [Bellanaslooa], the ford-mouth 
of the hosts ; and it is very probable that these 
gatherings, whatever may have been their original 
purpose, are represented by the present great 
horse fairs. 

Very often the s is replaced by t, by eclipsis (see 
page 23). Srahatloe, in the parish of Aghagower, 
Mayo, is an instance, the Irish name being Srath- 
a'-tsluaigh, the river-holm of the host. So also 
Tullintloy in Leitrim ; Knockatloe in Clare, and 
Knockatlowig near Castleventry in Cork, all 
signifying the hill of the host. 

Meetings or meeting-places are sometimes de- 
signated by the word pobul, which signifies peo- 
ple. This is not, as might be supposed from its 
resemblance to the English word, of modern in- 
troduction ; for it occurs in the most ancient Irish 
MSS., as for instance in those of Zeuss, where it 
glosses populus. It is often used to denote a con- 
gregation, and from this it is sometimes employed 
in the sense of " parish ; " but its primary sense 
seems to be people simply, without any reference 
to assemblies. 

The barony of Pubblebrien in Limerick, is 
called in Irish Pobul-ui-Bhriain [Pubble-ee-vreen], 
O'Brien's people, for it was the patrimony of the 
O'Briens ; and on the confines of Limerick, Cork, 

CHAP, vi.] Customs, Amusements, Occupations. 209 

and Kerry, is an extensive wild district, well 
known by the name of Pobble O'Keeffe, 
O'Keeffe's people. 

There is a townland near Enniskillen, contain- 
ing the remains of an old church, and another 
near Ardstraw in Tyrone, both called Pubble, i.e. 
a congregation or parish. The word occurs in 
combination in Reanabobul in the parish of Bally- 
tourney, Cork, Reidh-na-bpobul y the mountain- 
flat of the congregations ; in Lispopple in Dublin 
and Westmeath (Us, a fort) ; and in Skephubble, 
near Finglas, Dublin, the skeagh or bush of the 
congregation, where probably the young people 
were formerly accustomed to assemble on a Sunday 
after Mass, to amuse themselves round an ancient 
whitethorn tree. 

So far as conclusions may be drawn from the 
evidence of local names, we must believe that the 
pastime meetings of the peasantry were much 
more common formerly than now. In every part 
of the country, names are found that tell of those 
long-forgotten joyous assemblies ; and it is in- 
teresting to note the various contrivances adopted 
in their formation. 

The word bouchail [boohil], a boy, is of frequent 
occurrence in such names ; for example, Knockan- 
namohilly, in the parish of Youghalarra, Tipperary, 
in Irish Cnocdn-na-mbouchaillidhe, the hill of the 
boys, indicates the spot where young men used to 
assemble for amusement ; and with the same sig- 
nification is Knocknamohill in the parish of 
Castlemacadam, Wicklow ; Knocknabohilly, the 
name of a place near Cork city, and of another 
near Kinsale ; and Knockanenabohilly, in the 
parish of Kilcrumper, Cork the two last names 
being less correctly anglicised than the others. 
We find names of similar import in the north ; 
VOL. i. 15 

210 Historical and Legendary Names. ^PART n. 

Edenamohill is a townland in the parish of 
Donaghmore, Donegal ; and there is another place 
of the same name in the parish of Magheracul- 
money in Fermanagh, both anglicised from Eudan- 
na-mbouchail, the hill-brow of the boys ; and 
Ardnamoghill (ard, a height) is the name of a 
place in the parish of Killea, Donegal. 

Sometimes the same idea is expressed by the 
word 6g [oge], which literally signifies young, but 
is often applied to a young person. Tullahogue, 
or Tullyhog, near Stewartstown in Tyrone, where 
the O'Hagans resided, and where they inaugurated 
the chiefs of the O'Neills, is very often men- 
tioned in the annals, always by the name of 
Tulach-6g or TeaZach-6g, the hill of the youths ; 
and the name indicates that the place was used for 
the celebration of games, as well as for the inaugu- 
ration of the chieftains. The fine old fort on 
which the ceremonies took place in long past ages, 
still remains on the top of the tulach or hill ; and 
from time immemorial down to fifty or sixty years 
ago, a yearly gathering of young people was held 
on it, the 4 representative of the ancient assemblies. 
In Tipperary we find Glennanoge and Ballaghoge, 
the glen and the road of $ie youths. The synony- 
mous term oglafih occurs in Coolnanoglagh, in the 
parish of Monagay, Limerick, the hill-back of the 
young persons; while in the parish of Grange, 
Armagh, we find Ballygassoon, the town of the 
gossoons (young boys), or in the Munster dialect, 

Other terms are employed to designate the 
places of these meetings, which will be understood 
from a few examples. There can be little doubt 
that Ballysugagh near Saul in Down, has its name 
from some such merry-makings; for its name, 
Saile-sugach, merry-town, indicates as much. 

CHAP, vi.] Customs, Amusements, Occupations. 211 

Knoekaunavogga, in the parish of Bourney, Tip- 
perary, shows a similar origin, as is seen by its 
Irish name, Cnocan-a -mhagaidh, the hill of the 
joking or pleasantry ; and this termination is 
found in many ovuer names, such as Ardavagga 
(ard, a height), in the parish of Kilmurry-Ely, 
King's County ; and Cashlaunawogga, the castle 
of the merriment, a ruined fortress near Kilfenora 
in Clare. So also Knockannavlyman, in the 
parish of Ballingarry, Limerick, Cnocan-a' -bhladh- 
mainn, the hill of the boasting ; Ardingary near 
Letterkenny, which the Four Masters call Ard- 
an-ghaire, the hill of the shouting or laughter ; 
Knocknaclogha near Pomeroy in Tyrone, the seat 
of Mtcdonnel, the commander of O'Neill's gallo- 
glasses, Cnoc-au-vhluiche (Four Masters), the hill 
of t le game. 

Not unfrequently the same idea is expressed by 
ths word diomhaoin [deeveen], which signifies idle 
or vain a term imposed, we may be sure, by wise 
old people, who looked upon these pastime meet- 
ings as mere idleness and vanity. We see this in 
such names as Drumdeevin, near Kilmacrenan in 
Donegal, and Dromdeeveen, west of Dromcolliher 
in Limerick, both signifying idle ridge ; Coom- 
deeween in Kerry (coom, a hollow) ; Tievedeevan 
in Donegal, idle hill- side (taebh). 

By an examination of local names, we are en- 
abled not only to point out the spots where the 
peasant assemblies were held, but also often to get 
a glimpse of the nature of the amusements. Dan- 
cing has from time immemorial been a favourite 
recreation with our peasantry; and numbers of 
places have taken their names from the circum- 
stance that the young people of the neighbour- 
hood were accustomed to meet there in the summer 
evenings, to forget in the dance the fatigues r\ 
~he day's labour. 

212 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

The word for dance is rince or rinceadh [rinka] ; 
and it is curious that, of all the Indo-European 
languages, the Irish and Sanscrit have alone pre- 
served the word, and that with little variation, the 
Sansc. rinkha being almost identical with the 

Those who have visited the great cave near 
Mitchelstown, county Cork, will remember the 
name of the townland in which it is situated 
Skeheenarinky, or in Irish SceitMn-a' -rinceadh, 
the little bush of the dancing ; the bush no doubt 
marking the trysting-place, under which sat the 
musician, surrounded by the merry juveniles. A 
large stone (clock) must have served a similar 
purpose in Clogharinka in the parish of Muckalee, 
Kilkenny ; and we have Clasharinka, the trench 
or hollow of the dance, near Castlemartyr in Cork. 
A mill is generally a place of amusement ; and 
that it was sometimes selected for dance meetings, 
we see by Mullenaranky, the mill of the dance, in 
the parish of Lisronagh in Tipperary. A merry 
place must have been Ballinrink in the parish of 
Killeagh, Meath, since it deserved the name of 
dancing town ; and this was the original name of 
Kingstown in the parish of Faughalstown in 

When deer roamed wild through every forest, 
when wild boars and wolves lurked in the glens 
and mountain gorges, and various other beasts of 
chase swarmed on the hills and plains, hunting 
must have been to the people both an amusement 
and a necessary occupation. Our forefathers, like 
most ancient people, were passionately fond of the 
chase ; and our old tales and romances abound in 
descriptions of its pleasures and dangers, and of 
the prowess and adventures of the hunters. That 
they sometimes had certain favourite spots for 

CHAP, vi.] Customs, Amusements, Occupations. 

this kind of sport, we have sufficient proof in such 
names as Drumnashaloge in the parish of Clon- 
feacle, Tyrone ; and Drumashellig near Ballyroan 
in Queen's County ; in Irish, Druim-na-sealg, 
the ridge of the chase. The word sealg [shallog] , 
hunting, occurs in many other names, and as it 
varies little in form, it is always easy to recognise 
it. Derrynashallog (Derry, an oak-wood) is in the 
parish of Donagh in Monaghan ; and Bally na- 
shallog, the town of the hunting, lies near the 
city of Londonderry. 

The very spot where the huntsman wound his 
horn to collect his dogs and companions, is often 
identified by such names as Tullynahearka, near 
Aughrim in Roscommon, Tulaigh-na-hadhavrce, the 
hill of the horn ; Killeenerk in Westmeath (Kil- 
leen, a little wood), and Drumnaheark in Donegal 
(Drum, a ridge) ; Knockerk, near Slane in Meath, 
and Lisnahirka in Roscommon, the hill and the 
fort of the horn. 

Another favourite athletic exercise among the 
ancient Irish, a ad which we find very often men- 
tioned in old sales, was hurling ; and those who 
remember the eagerness with which it was prac- 
tised in many parts of Ireland twenty-five years 
ago, can well attest that it had not declined in 
popularity. Down to a very recent period it was 
carried on with great spirit and vigour in the 
Phoenix Park, Dublin, where the men of Meath 
contended every year against the men of Kildare ; 
and it still continues, though less generally than 
formerly, to be a favourite pastime among the 

The hurley or curved stick with which the ball 
was struck, corresponding with the bat in cricket, 
is called in Irish comdn, signifying literally a 
T.ttle crooked stick, from com or cam, curved. It 

214 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

is by this word that the game itself is commonly 
designated ; and it is called coman in most parts of 
Ireland, even by the English-speaking people. It 
forms a part of several names, but the initial c is 
commonly made g by eclipse (see p. 22) ; and in 
every case it serves to identify the places where 
the game was played. Aughnagomaun, in the 
parish of Ballysheehan, Tipperary, is written in 
Irish Achadh-na-gcomdn, the huriing-field ; there 
is a townland near Belfast called Ballygammon, 
which, as it is written Ballygoman in a grant of 
James I., obviously represents Baile-na-gcoman, 
the town of the hurling ; and we have Gortgom- 
mon in Fermanagh, and Lisnagommon in Queen's 
County, the field and the fort, of the comans. 

There is another word commonly used to denote 
hurling iomdn [ummaun], which literally means 
driving or tossing. From this is named the town- 
land of Reanahumana in the parish of Feakle in 
the east of Clare, which name exactly repre- 
sents the sound of the Gaelic Reidh-na-hiomdna, 
the mountain-flat of the hurling (see Readoty). 
From this word is also named Omaun (-more and 
-beg), two townlands in the parish of Killererin in 
Galway, south-east of Tuam, the name signifying 
a place for hurling. 

Look-out points, whether on the coast to com- 
mand the sea, or on the borders of a hostile 
territory to guard against surprise, or in the midst 
of a pastoral country to watoh the flocks, are 
usually designated by the word coimhead [covade]. 
This word signifies watching or guarding, and it 
is generally applied to hills from which there is 
an extensive prospect. Mullycovet and Mullykivet 
in Fermanagh must have been used for this pur- 
pose, for they are both modern forms of Mullaigh- 
coimheada, the hill of the watching ; and Glencovet- 

CHAP, vi.] Customs, Amusements, Occupations. 215 

the name of a townland in Donegal, and of ano- 
ther near Enniskiilen, and Drumcovet in Deny, 
have a similar origin. Sometimes the m is fully 
pronounced, and this is generally the case in the 
south, and occasionally in the north ; as in Cloon- 
tycommade near Kanturk in Cork, Gluain-tighe- 
cotmheada, the meadow of the watching-house ; 
and Slieve Commedagh, a high mountain near 
Slieve Donard in Down, the mountain of the 

The compound Deagh-choimhead [Deacovade] 
signifies " a good reconnoitering station " (deagh, 
good) ; and it gives name to Deehommed or De- 
comet in Down, Deechomade in Sligo, Dehomad 
in Clare, and a few other places. 

In old Irish writings these reconnoitering sta- 
tions are often mentioned. For instance, in the 
ancient tale of the Battle of Moyrath, Con gal 
Claen speaks to the druid, Dubdiad : " ' Thou 
art to go therefore from me, to view and recon- 
noitre the men of Erin [i.e. the Irish army under 
King Domhnall] ; and it shall be according to thy 
account and description of the chiefs of the west, 
that I will array my battalions, and arrange my 
forces.' Then Dubdiad went to Ard-na-hiom- 
fhairecse [Ard-na-himarksha, i.e., the hill of the 
'.reconnoitering], and from it he took his view." 
(Battle of Moyrath, p. 179). 

Elevated stations that command an extensive 
view often received names formed from the word 
radharc [ryark in the south ; rayark or rawark in 
the north]. The Mullaghareirk mountains lie to 
the south-east of Abbeyfeale in Limerick, and the 
name Mullach-a-radharc signifies the summit of 
the prospect. The same word is found in Lisa- 
rearke, in the parish of Currin, Monaghan (Lis, 8 
fort) ; and 4n Knockanaryark, two miles east of 

216 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

Kenmare, prospect hill. There is a residence 
near Dalkey in Dublin, with the name Rarkan- 
illin, which represents the Irish Radharc-an- 
oileain, the view of the island, i. e. Dalkey Island. 

In an early stage of society in every country, 
signal or beacon fires were in common use, 
for the guidance of travellers or to alarm the 
country in any sudden emergency. Fires were 
lighted also on certain festival days, as I have 
stated (p. 201) ; and those lighted on the eve of 
St. John, the 24th of June, are continued to the 
present day through the greater part of Ireland. 
The tradition is, that the May -day festival was 
transferred by St. Patrick to the 24th of June, in 
honour of St. John, but for this we have no 
written authority. The spots where signal or 
festival fires used to be lighted are still, in many 
cases, indicated by the names, though in almost 
all these places the custom has, for ages, fallen 
into disuse. The words employed are usually feme 
and solas [tinne", sullas]. 

Teme is the general word for fire, and in modern 
names it is usually found forming the termination 
tinny. It is found in Kiltinny near Coleraino > the 
wood of the fire ; Duntinny iu Donegal (dun, a 
fort) ; Mullaghtinny near Clogher in Tyrone, the 
summit of the fire. Tennyphobble near Granard 
in Longford, Teine-phobail, the fire of the parish 
or congregation, plainly indicates some festive 
assembly round a fire. Cloghaunnatinny, in the 
parish of Kilmurry Clare, was anciently, and is 
still called in Irish, Clochdn-Uk-teine, the stepping- 
stones of the fire-tree, from a large tree which 
grew near the crossing, under which May fires 
used to be lighted. These fires were no doubt 
often lighted under trees, for the Four Masters 
mention a place called Bile-teineadh [Bili tinne], 

CHAP, vi.] Customs, Amusements, Occupations. 217 

the old tree of the fire ; which 0' Donovan identi- 
fies with the place near Moynalty in Meath, now 
called in Irish, Coill-a'-bhile, the wood of the bile, 
or old tree, and in English Billywood. And in 
the parish of Ardnurcher, Westmeath, there is a 
place now called Creeve, but anciently Craebh-teine 
[Creeve-tinng : Four Mast.] the branchy tree of 
the fire. 

The plural of teine is teinte [tintS], and this is 
also of frequent occurrence in names, as in Clon- 
tinty near Glanworth, Cork, the meadow of the 
fires ; Mollynadinta, in the parish of Eossinver, 
Leitrim; Mullaigh-na-dteinte, the summit of the 
fires. This word, with the English plural added 
(p. 32), gives names to Tents, (i.e. fires), three 
townlands in Cavan, Fermanagh, and Leitrim ; 
and the English is substituted for the Irish plural 
in Tinnies in Valentia Island. The diminutive is 
found in Clontineen in Westmeath, and in Tul- 
lantintin in Cavan, the meadow and the hill of the 
little fire. 

Solas is the word in general use for light in the 
present spoken language ; there is another form, 
soillse, which is sometimes used in modern Irish, 
and which is also found in the Zeuss MSS . where 
it glosses lumen (Zeuss, gram. Celt., p. 257) ; and 
its diminutive soillsean (sileshaun) is often found in 
local names. Solas gives name to Ardsollus, the 
hill of light, in Clare ; in Antrim there is a place 
called Drumnasole, the ridge of the lights ; Sollus 
itself is the name of a towrdand in Tyrone ; while 
we find Bossolus in Monaghan, and Rostollus in 
Galway (s eclipsed by t; see p. 23), the wood or 
the promontory of light. 

There are similar names formed from soillsean ; 
as for instance, Mullaghselsana in the parish of 
Errigal Trough, Monaghan, the hill of the illu- 

218 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

minations ; and Corhelshinagh in the same county, 
the round hill of the fires. Sileshaun, the name 
of a place in the parish of Inagh, Clare, exactly 
represents the pronunciation of the word ; and 
this same name is shortened to Selshan on the 
eastern shore of Lough Neagh, north of Lurgan. 

In former days, when roads were few, and 
bridges still fewer, a long journey was an under- 
taking always arduous, and generally uncertain 
and dangerous. Rivers were crossed by fords, and 
to be able to strike exactly on the fordable point 
was to the traveller always important ; while at 
night, especially on a dark, wet, and stormy night, 
it became not unfrequently a matter of life or 
death. To keep a light of some kind burning on 
the spot would suggest itself as the most natural 
and effectual plan for directing travellers; and 
except in a state of society downright barbarous, 
it is scarcely conceivable that some such expedient 
would not at least occasionally be adopted. 

The particular kind of light employed, it would 
now probably be vain to speculate ; a taper or 
splinter of bogwood in a window pane, if a house 
lay near, a lantern hung on the bough of a tree, a 
blaze of dried furze or ferns kept up till the ex- 
pected arrival some or all of these we may sup- 
pose would be adopted, according to circumstances. 
That this custom existed appears very probable 
from this fact, that many fords now generally 
spanned by bridges in different parts of Ireland, 
still go by the name of Ath-solais, the ford of the 
light, variously modernised according to locality ; 
and some of them have given names to townlands. 
At the same time, it must be observed, that the 
brightness of the water may have originated some 
of the names quoted below ; for we find the word 
solus sometimes applied to water in this sense. 

CHAP, vi.] Customs, Amusements, Occupations. 219 

Thus in a poem in the Book of Lecan, a certain 
district is designated " Fir -tire na sreb solus," 
"Fir-tire of the bright streams" (Hy F. 24); 
and near the lake of Coumshingane in the 
Comeragh Mountains in Waterf ord, a stream flows 
down a ravine, which, after a heavy shower, is a 
hrilliant foaming torrent that can be seen several 
miles off ; and this is called An t-uisge solais, the 
water of light, or bright water. 

A ford on the river Aubeg, three miles east of 
Kanturk in Cork, has given name to the townland 
of Assolas ; there is a ford of the same name, 
where the road from Bunlahy in Longford, to 
Scrabby, crosses a little creek of Lough Gowna ; 
another on the Glenanair river near Doneraile, on 
the confines of Limerick and Cork ; and Athsollis 
bridge crosses the Buin^ea river, just beside the 
railway, four miles south-east from Macroom. 
Several small streams in different parts of the 
country have names of this kind, from a ford some- 
where on their course one for instance, called 
Aughsullish, in the parish of Doon, Tipperary. 
The name of Lightford bridge, two miles south- 
east from Castlebar, is a translation from the Irish 
name which is still used, Ath-a'-solais; and Bally - 
nasollus in Tyrone should have been made Bel- 
lanasollus, for its Irish name is Bel-atha-na-solus, 
the ford mouth of the lights. Ballysoilshaun 
bridge spans the Nenagh river four miles south- 
east from Nenagh ; its Irish name is Bel-atha-soill- 
sedin, which was originally the name of the ford 
before the bridge was built, and which has the 
same meaning as the last name. There is a ford 
on the river Swilly, two miles west of Letter- 
kenny, which, judging from its position and its 
being defended by a castle, a , well as from its 
frequent mention in the Anna's must have been 

220 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

in former days one of the principal passes across 
the river ; and as such was no doubt often sig- 
nalled by lights. The Four Masters write the 
name Scairbh-sholais the scarijf, or shallow ford of 
the light ; it is now called Scarriffhollis, and the 
castle, which has disappeared, was called Castle - 

Places of execution have been at all times, and 
in all countries, regarded by the people with feel- 
ings of awe and detestation ; and even after the 
discontinuance of the practice, the traditions of 
the place preserve the memory of it from one 
generation to another. A name indicative of the 
custom is almost certain to fix itself on the spot, 
of which we have instances in the usual English 
names, Gallows-hill, Gallows- green, &c. ; and 
such names, from the peculiarity of their history, 
retain their hold, when many others of less im- 
pressive signification vanish from the face of the 

Several terms are used in Ireland to denote such 
places, the principal of which are the following : 
crock signifies literally a cross, but is almost 
always understood to mean a cross as an instru- 
ment of execution, or a gallows. It is of long 
standing in the language, and is either cognate 
with or borrowed from the Latin crux, which it 
glosses in the Zeuss MSS. We find it in Knock - 
nacrohy, the name of three townlands in Limerick, 
Kerry, and Waterford, in Irish Cnoc-na-croiche, 
the hill of the gallows ; and in Ardnacrohy in 
Limerick, with the same meaning. The instru- 
ment of death must have been erected in an 
ancient fort, in Ranacrohy in Tipperary. The 
word often takes the forms of crehy and creha in 
modern names, as in Cappanacreha (Cappa, a 
plot of ground), in Galway ; and Raheenacrehy 

CHAP, vi.] Customs, Amusements, Occupations. 221 

near Trim in Meath, the little fort of the 

Crochaire [crohera] signifies a hangman ; and 
it is in still more frequent use in the formation of 
names than crock, usually in the forms croghery 
and croghera. Knockcroghery, the hangman's 
hill, is a village in Roscommon, where there is a 
station on the Midland Railway ; and there are 
places of the same name in Cork and Mayo. 
Mullaghcroghery, with a similar meaning, occurs 
three times in Monaghan ; and in Cork, Glena- 
croghery and Ardnagroghery, Ard-na-gcrochaire 
(p. 22), the hill of the hangmen. 

Sealan [shallan] signifies the rope used by an 
executioner ; and it is sometimes used to desig- 
nate the place where people were hanged. It 
gives name to Shallon, a townland near Finglas 
in Dublin ; there is another place of the same 
name near Swords, and a third near Julianstown 
in Meath. Shallany in the parish of Derry vullen, 
Fermanagh, is the same name slightly altered ; 
and Drumshallon in Louth and Armagh, signifies 
the ridge of the gallows. 

There is another mode of designating places of 
execution, from which it appears that criminals 
were often put to death by decapitation : an in- 
ference which is corroborated by various passages 
in Irish authorities. Names of this kind are 
formed on the Irish forms eeann, a head, which is 
placed in the end of words in the genitive plural, 
generally taking the forms nagin, nagan, &c. 

There is a place called Knocknaggin near Bal- 
rothery in Dublin, where quantities of human re- 
mains were found some years ago, and this is also 
the name of a townland in the parish of Desert- 
martin, Derry : Irish form Cnoc-na-gceann, the 
hill of the heads. The termination is modified in 

222 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

accordance with the Minister pronunciation in 
Knocknagown in Cork, and in Knockaunnagown 
in Waterford, both having the same meaning. 
Loughnagin occurs in Donegal, and Gortinagin, 
the little field of the heads, in the parish of Cap- 
pagh in Tyrone. 

In a state of society when war was regarded as 
the most noble of all professions, and before the 
invention of gunpowder, those who manufactured 
swords and spears were naturally looked upon as 
very important personages. In Ireland they were 
held in great estimation ; and in the historical 
and legendary tales, we find the smith was often 
a powerful chieftain, who made arms for himself 
and his relations. We know that Vulcan was one 
of the most powerful of the Grecian gods, and 
the ancient Irish had their Goban, the JDedannan 
smith- god, who figures in many of the ancient 

The land possessed by smiths, or the places 
where they resided, may in many cases be deter- 
mined by the local names. Gobha [gow] is a 
smith, old Irish form go ba ; old Welsh gob, now 
gof; Cornish and Breton gdf. The usual genitive 
form is gobhan [gown], but it is often the same as 
the nominative ; and both forms are reproduced 
in names, the former being commonly made gowan 
or gown, and the latter gow. Both terminations 
are very common, and may be generally trans- 
lated "of the smith," or if it be nagowan, "of 
the smiths." 

Ballygowan, Ballygow, and Ballingowan, the 
town of the smith, are the names of numerous 
places through the four provinces ; and there are 
several townlands in Ulster and Munster called 
Ballynagowan, the town of the smiths. Occa- 
sionally the Irish genitive plural is made goibhne, 

CHAP, vi.] Customs, Amusements, Occupations. 223 

which in the west of Ireland is anglicised guivnia 
givna, &c. ; as in Carrownaguivna and Ardgivna, 
Sligo,the quarter-land, and the height, of the smiths. 

Sometimes the genitive singular is made goe or 
go in English ; as we find in Athgoe near New- 
castle in Dublin, the smith's ford; Kinego in 
Tyrone and Donegal, the smith's head or hill 
(ceann) ; Ednego near Dromore in Down, the hill- 
brow (eudan) of the smith. It takes a different 
form in Clongowes in Kildare, the smith's meadow, 
where there is now a Roman Catholic college 
the same name as Cloongown in Cork. 

Ceard signifies an artificer of any kind; it 
occurs in the Zeuss MSS. in the form of cerd or 
cert, and glosses aerarius. In Scotland it has held 
its place as a living word, even among speakers of 
English, but it is applied to a tinker : 

"Her charms had struck a sturdy caird, 
As weel as poor gut scraper." BURNS. 

Aerarius, which according to the glossographer 
of a thousand years ago, is equivalent to cerd, 
signifies literally a worker in brass ; and curiously 
enough, this corresponds exactly with the de- 
cription the caird gives of himself in Burns' 
poem : 

"Mybonnie lass, 
I work in brass, 
A tinker is my station." 

This word usually enters into names with the c 
eclipsed ^p. 22), forming the termination nn garde 
or nagard, "of the artificers." Thus there are 
several places in Antrim, Derry, Limerick, and 
Clare, called Ballynagarde, in Irish Baik-na- 
gceard, the town of the artificers : the same name is 
corrupted to Ballynacaird in the parish of Racavan 
in Antrim, and to Ballynacard in King's County, 

224 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

Castlegarde and Gortnagarde in Limerick, the 
castle, and the field, of the artificers. 

Cearda or ceardcha denotes a workshop of any 
kind, but it is now generally applied to a forge : 
old Irish cerddchae, officina (Zeuss). It enters 
very often into names as a termination, under 
several forms, indicating the spots where forges 
formerly stood. It is very often contracted to cart, 
as in Coolnacart in Monahan, which would be 
correctly written in Irish Cul-na- ceardcha, the hill- 
back of the forge. A final n is often added, in 
accordance with the fifth declension ; as in Cool- 
nacartan in Queen's County, the same name as the 
last ; Ballycarton in Derry ; Mullaghcarton in 
Antrim (mullach, a summit) ; Shronacarton and 
Rathnacarton in Cork, the nose or point, and the 
fort, of the forge. Other forms are exhibited in 
Farranacardy in Sligo, forge land ; and Tullyna- 
gardy near Newtownards in Down, Tulaigh-na- 
gceardcha, the hill of the forges. 

Saer, a builder or carpenter, appears in modern 
names generally in the form seer ; as in Rathna- 
seer in Limerick, the fort of the carpenters ; 
Derrynaseer (Derry, an oak wood) the name of 
several townlands in Leitrim and the Ulster coun- 
ties ; Farranseer in Cavan and Londonderry, car- 
penter's land. Sometimes the s becomes t by 
eclipsis (page 23) ; as in Ballinteer, the name of 
a place near Dundrum in Dublin, and of another 
place in Londonderry, in Irish Baik-an- tsaeir, the 
town of the carpenter or builder. 

The ancient Celtic nations navigated their seas 
and lakes in the curragh or hide-covered wicker 
boat ; and it is very probable that it was in fleets 
of these the Irish made their frequent descents on 
the coasts of Britain and Gaul. Canoes hollowed 
out of a single tree were also in extensive use in 

CHAP. vi. J Customs, Amusements, Occupations. 225 

Ireland, especially on the rivers and lakes, and 
they are now frequently found buried in lakes and 
dried-up lake beds. 

Cobhlach [cowlagh] means a fleet ; but the term 
was applied to a collection of boats, such as were 
fitted out for lake or river navigation ; as well as 
to a fleet of ships. In Munster the word is 
pronounced as if written cobhaltach [coltagh], and 
it is preserved according to this pronunciation in 
the names of several places, the best known of 
which is Carrigaholt, a village in Clare, at the 
mouth of the Shannon. The Four Masters write 
it Carraig-an-chobhlaigh [Carrigahowly], the rock 
of the fleet ; and the rock from which it took its 
name rises over the bay where the fleets anchored, 
and is crowned by the ruins of a castle. The 
present Irish pronunciation is Carraig-d-chobhal- 
taigh [Carrigaholty], which by the omission of the 
final syllable, settled into the modern name. 
Another place of the same name, also well known, 
and which preserves the correct Irish pronuncia- 
tion, is Carrigahowly on Newport bay in Mayo, 
the castle of the celebrated Grace O'Malley, the 
Connaught chief tainess, who paid a visit to Queen 
Elizabeth. The word, with its Munster pronuncia- 
tion, appears in Bingacoltig in Cork harbour, 
opposite Hawlbowline island, the rinn or point of 
the fleet. 

Most of the various terms employed to designate 
ships and boats also find their way into local 
names. According to the Book of Lecan and 
other authorities, Ceasair and her people (see p. 
161) landed at a place called Dun-na-mbarc, the 
fortress of the barks or ships, which O'Donovan 
(Four Mast., vol. i., p. 3) believes is the place now 
called Dunnamark, near Bantry. And this word 
bare is not, as might be thought, a loan-word from 

VOL. I. 16 

226 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

English, for it is used in our oldest MSS. (as in L. 
na hUidhre : see Kilk. Arch. Jour. 1870, p. 100). 
Long signifies a ship. According to Cormac's 
Glossary, it is derived from the Saxon word lang, 
long ; it appears more likely, however, that both 
the Saxon and Irish words are cognate with the 
Lat. longus, for we find the Irish word in the 
Zeuss MSS. ( forlongis = navigatione) . It occurs oc- 
casionally in local names, as in Tralong near Ross- 
Carbery in Cork, the strand of the ships ; Dun- 
nalong on the Foyle, five miles south of Derry, 
the name of which is Irish as it stands, and sig- 
nifies the fortress of the ships ; Annalong on the 
coast of the county Down, Ath-na-long, the ford 
of the ships, a name which shows that the little 
creek at the village was taken advantage of to 
shelter vessels, in ancient as well as in modern 

Many places take their names from bad, a boat ; 
several of which spots, we may be pretty certain, 
were ferries, in which a boat was always kept, 
little or nothing different from the ferries of the 
present day. Such a place was Rinawade on the 
Liffey, near Celbridge, above Dublin Rinn-d > - 
bhdid, the point of the boat ; and Donabate near 
Malahide, the church (domhnach) of the boat. 

" The Irish made use of another kind of boat in 
their rivers and lakes, formed out of an oak 
wrought hollow (i. e. one oak), which is yet used 
in some places, and called in Irish coiti, English 
cott " (Harris's Ware, p. 179). The correct Irish 
word is cot, of which coiti or coite is the genitive, 
and it is still in constant use for a small boat or 
canoe. From it is derived the name of Annacotty, 
now a small village on the river Mulkear, east of 
Limerick, called in Irish Ath-na-coite, the ford of 
the cot or small boat ; as well as that of 

CHAP. vii. J Agriculture and Pasturage. 227 

cotty in Clare, the cliff of the boat : the name of 
Carrickacottia on the shore of the river Erne, a 
mile below Belleek, indicates that the cot for the 
conveyance of passengers across, used to be moored 
to the carrick or rock. A diminutive form appears 
in the name of a well-known lake near Killarney, 
Lough Guitane, which the people pronounce Loch- 
coitedin, the lake of the little cot a name exactly 
the same as Loughacutteen in the parish of White- 
church near Caher in Tipperary, only that a 
different diminutive is used 



THE inhabitants of this country were, from the 
earliest antiquity, engaged in agriculture and 
pasturage. In our oldest records we find constant 
mention of these two occupations ; and the clearing 
of plains is recorded as an event worthy of special 
notice, in the reigns of many of the early kings. 

It has been remarked by several writers, and it 
is still a matter of common observation, that many 
places, especially hill-sides, now waste and wild, 
show plain traces of former cultivation. Boate 
(Nat. Hist. Chap. X., Sec. iii.), writes : "It hath 
been observed in many parts of Ireland, chiefly in 
the county of Meath, and further northward, that 
upon the top of great hills and mountains, not 
only at the side and foot of them, to this day the 
ground is uneven, as if it had been plowed in 
former times. The inhabitants do affirm, that 
f heir forefathers being much given to tillage, con- 

228 historical and Legendary Names. ['PART u. 

trary to what they are now, used to turn all to 
plowland." The Archbishop of Dublin, in a letter 
inserted in the same book says : " For certain, 
Ireland has been better inhabited than it is at 
present : mountains that now are covered with 
boggs, have formerly been plowed ; for when you 
dig five or six feet deep, you discover a proper 
soil for vegetables, and find it plowed into ridges 
and furrows." And Smith (Hist, of Cork, I., 
198), speaking of the mountains round the source 
of the river Lee, tells us : " Many of the moun- 
tains have formerly been tilled, for when the heath 
that covers them is pulled up and burned, the 
ridges and furrows of the plough are visible." 

These facts tend to confirm the opening state- 
ment of this ch pter, that the Irish have from all 
time lived partly by tillage. Many have come to 
the same conclusion as the Archbishop of Dublin, 
that " Ireland has been better inhabited than it is 
at present" (about 1645). But I think Boate 
gives the true solution in the continuation of the 
passage quoted above : " Others say that it was 
done for want of arable, because the champain was 
most everywhere beset and overspread with woods, 
which by degrees are destroyed by the wars." 

There are several terms entering into local 
names, which either indicate directly, or imply, 
agricultural operations, the enclosure of the land 
by fences, or its employment as pasture ; and to 
the illustration of those that occur most frequently 
I will devote the present chapter. 

Ceapach [cappagh] signifies a plot of land laid 
out for tillage; it is still a living word in Con- 
naught, and is in common use in the formation of 
names, but it does not occur in Ulster so frequently 
as in the other provinces. Cappagh and Cappa 
are the most usual anglicised forms ; and these 

CHAP, vii.] Agriculture and Pasturage. 229 

either alone or in combination, give names to nu- 
merous places. It has been often asserted, and 
seems generally believed, that Cappoquin (county 
Waterford) means " The head of the house of 
Conn ; " but this is a mere guess : the name is a 
plain Irish compound, Ceapach-Chuinn, signifying 
merely Conn's plot of land, but no one can tefl 
who this Conn was. 

Cappagh white in Tipperary, is called after the 
family of White ; Cappaghcreen near Dunboyne, 
in Meath, withered plot ; Cappanageeragh near 
Geashill in King's County, the plot of the sheep 
Cappateemore in Clare, near Limerick city, is in 
Irish Ceapach-a'-tighe-nihoir, the plot of the great 
house ; Cappanalarabaun in Galway, the plot of 
the white mare ; Cappaghmore and Cappamore, 
great tillage plot. The word is sometimes made 
Cappy, which is the name of a townland in Fer- 
managh ; Cappydonnell in King's County, Don- 
nell's plot ; and the diminutive Cappog or Cappoge 
(little plot), is the name of several places in Ulster, 
Leinster, and Munster. 

Garrdha [gara], a garden; usually made garry 
or garra in modern names. About half a mile 
from Banagher in King's County, are situated the 
ruins of Garry Castle, once the residence of the 
Mac Coghlans, the chiefs of the surrounding terri- 
tory. This castle is called in the Annals, Garrdha- 
an-chaislein [Garran-cashlane], i. e. the garden of 
the castle ; and from this the modern name Garry- 
castle has been formed, and has been extended to 
the barony. The literal meaning of the old 
designation is exactly preserved in the name of 
the modern residence, Castle Garden, situated 
near the ruins. 

Garry, i. e. the garden, is the name of a place 
near Ballymouey in Antrim ; and the parish of 

230 Historical and Legendary Names. ' L PART J r< 

Myross, west of Glandore in Cork, is called the 
Garry, from its fertility compared with the sur- 
rounding district. The well-known Garryowen, 
near Limerick, signifies Owen's garden ; Garry- 
sallagh in Cavan and other counties, dirty garden, 
and sometimes, willow garden; Garryvicleheen 
near Thurles in Tipperary, Mac Leheen s garden : 
Ballingarry, the town of the garden, is the name 
of a town on the borders of Limerick and Tip- 
perary, and of fourteen townlands. The word 
Garry begins the names of about ninety town- 
lands scattered over the four provinces. 

Gort, a tilled field : in the Zeuss MSS. it occurs 
in the form gart, and glosses hortus, and Colgan 
translates it prcedium. It is obviously cognate 
with Fr. jardin, Sax. geard, Eng. garden, Lat. 
hortus. It is a very prolific root- word, for there 
are more than 1,200 townlands whose names are 
f orrned by, or begin with Gort and Gurt, its usual 
modern forms. Gortnaglogh, or as it would be 
written in Irish, Gort-na-gcloch, the field of the 
stones, is the name of a dozen townlands, some of 
them in each of the four provinces; Gortmillish 
in Antrim, sweetfield, so called probably from 
the abundance of honeysuckle ; Gortaganniff near 
Adart in Limerick, the field of the sand. The 
town of Gort in Galway, is called by the Four 
Masters Gort-innsi-Guaire, and this is also its 
present Irish name ; it signifies the field of the 
island of Guara, and it is believed that it took its 
name from Guaire Aidhne, king of Connaught in 
the seventh century (see p. 104). 

Gr rteen, Gortin, and Gurteen (little field), three 
different forms of the diminutive, are exceedingly 
common, and are themselves the names of about 
100 townlands and villages. The ancient form 
gart is preserved in the diminutive Gartan, the 

CHAP, vii.] Agriculture and Pasturage. 231 

name of a parish in Donegal, well-known as the 
birthplace of St. Columba ; which is written 
Gortan in some ancient Irish authorities, and 
Gar tan in others. 

Tamhnach [tawnagh] signifies a green field 
which produces fresh sweet grass. This word 
enters very generally into names in Ulster and 
Connaught, especially in the mountainous dis- 
tricts : it is found occasionally, though seldom, in 
Leinster, and still more seldom in Munster. In 
modern names it usually appears as Tawnagh, 
Tawny, and Tonagh, which are themselves the 
names of several places ; in the north of Ulster 
the aspirated m is often restored (see p. 43), and 
the word then becomes Tamnagh and Tamny. In 
composition it takes all the preceding forms, as 
well as Tawna and Tamna. 

Saintfield in Down is a good example of the use 
of this word. Its old name, which was used to a 
comparatively late period, and which is still well 
known, was Tonaghneeve, the phonetic represen- 
tative of Tamhnach-naemh, the field of saints 
There is a townland near the town which still 
retains the name of Tonaghmore, great field ; 
originally so called to distinguish it from Tonagh- 

The forms Tawnagh and Tawna are found in 
Tawnaghlahan near Donegal, broad field ; Taw- 
naghaknaff in the parish of Bohola, Mayo, the 
fields of the bones (cnamh, a bone), which pro- 
bably points out the site of a battle ; Tawnakeel 
near Crossmolina, narrow field. Tawny appears 
in Tawnyeely near Mohill in Leitrim, the field of 
the lime (Tamhnach-aelaigh) ; and Tawny brack in 
Antrim speckled field. Tamnagh and its modifi- 
cations gives names to Tamnaghbane in Armagh, 
white field : Tt. iinaficarbo*- and Tamnafiglassan, 

232 Historical and Legendary Names [ PART n. 

both in Armagh the first Tamhnach-feadha-car- 
bait, the field of the wood of the chariot, and the 
second the field of Glassan's wood ; Tamnymartin 
near Maghera in Deny, Martin's field. 

Rathdowney, the name of a village and parish 
in Queen's County, signifies as it stands, the fort 
of the church (domhnach) ; hut the correct name 
would be Rathtoumey, representing the Irish Rath- 
tamhnaigh, as the Four Masters write it the fort 
of the green field. This was the old pagan name, 
which the people corrupted (by merely changing 
t to d) under the idea that domhnach was the proper 
word, and that the name was derived from the 
church, which was built on the original rath. 

There is a form Tavnagh, used in some of the 
Ulster counties, especially in Antrim and Mona- 
ghan; such as Tavnaghdrissagh in Antrim, the 
field of the briers ; Tavanaskea in Monaghan, the 
field of the bushes. In composition the t- is some- 
times aspirated, as in Corhawnagh and Corhawny- 
the rough field, or the round hill of the field, the 
names of several places in Cavan and the Con- 
naught counties. 

Achadh [aha], a field ; translated campulus by 
Adamnan. It is generally represented in modern 
names by agha, agh, or augh ; but in individual 
cases the investigator must be careful, for these 
three words often stand for ath, a ford. 

The parish of Agha in Carlow takes its name 
from a very old church ruin, once an important 
religious foundation, which the Four Masters call 
Achadh-arghlais, the field of the green tillage. 
Aghinver on Lough Erne in Fermanagh, is called 
in the Annals Achadh-inbhir, the field of the inver t 
or river mouth. Aghmacart in Queen's County, 
is in Irish Achadh-mic-Airt, the field of Art'a 
son; Aghindarragh in Tyrone, the field of the 

CHAP. vii. J Agriculture and Pasturage. 233 

oak; Aghawoney near Kilmacrenan in Donegal, 
written by the Four Masters Achadh-mhona, bog- 
field. Achonry in Sligo is called in the Annals, 
Achadh-Chonaire [Ahaconnary], Conary's field. 
Ardagh is the name of numerous villages, town- 
lands, and parishes through the four provinces ; 
several of these are often mentioned in the Annals 
the Irish form being always Ard-achadh, high field 
In a few cases the modern form is Ardaghy. 

Cluain [cloon] is often translated pratum by 
Latin writers, and for want of a better term it is 
usually rendered in English by " lawn" or 
"meadow/' Its exact meaning, however, is a 
fertile piece of land, or a green arable spot, sur- 
rounded or nearly surrounded by bog or marsh on 
one side, and water on the other. 

The word forms a part of a vast number of 
names in all parts of Ireland ; many of the religi- 
ous establishments derived their names from it ; 
and this has led some writers into the erroneous 
belief that the word originally meant a place of 
religious retirement. But it is certain that in its 
primitive signification it had no reference to reli 
gion ; and its frequent occurrence in our ecclesi- 
astical names is sufficiently explained by the well- 
known custom of the early Irish saints, to select 
lonely and retired places for their own habitations, 
as well as for their religious establishments. 

The names of many of the religious cloons are 
in fact of pagan origin, and existed before the 
ecclesiastical foundations, having been adopted 
without change by the founders: among these 
may be reckoned the following. Clones (pro- 
nounced in two syllables) in Monaghan, where a 
round tower remains to attest its former religious 
celebrity ; its name is written in the Annals 
Cluain-Eois [Cloonoce], Eos's meadow; and it is 

234 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

not improbable that Eos was the pagan chief who 
raised the great fort, the existence of which proves 
it to have been a place of importance before the 
Christian settlement. 

Clonard in Meath, where the celebrated St. 
Finian had his great school in the sixth century, 
is called in all the Irish authorities, Cluain-Eraird, 
from which the present name has been contracted. 
Many have translated this " The retirement on 
the western height ;" but this is a mere guess, and 
at any rate could not be right, for the site of the 
establishment is a dead flat on the left bank of the 
Boyne. According to Colgan, Erard was a man's 
name signifying " noble, exalted, or distinguished, 
and it was formerly not unfrequent among the 
Irish" (A. SS., p. 28). He then states that this 
place was so called from some man named Erard, 
so that Cluain-Eraird or Clonard signifies Erard's 
meadow ; and since, as in case of Clones, a moat 
still remains there, Erard may have been the 
pagan chief who erected it, ages before the time 
of St. Finian. It is worthy of remark that Erard 
is occasionally met with as a personal name even 
at the present time. There are several other 
places in Leinster and Munster called Clonard 
and Cloonard, but in these the Irish form of the 
name is probably Cluain-ard, high meadow. 

We find the names of some of the religious 
establishments formed by suffixing the name of a 
saint or some other Christian term to the word 
cluain ; and, in these cases, this cluain may be a 
remnant of the previous pagan name, which was 
partly changed after the ecclesiastical foundation. 
Clonallan, now a parish near Newry in Down, is 
mentioned by Keating, Colgan, and others, who 
call it Cluain- Dallain, Dalian's meadow ; the d is 
omitted by aspiration (see p. 20) in the modern 

CHAP, vii.] Agriculture and Pasturage. 235 

name, but in the Taxation of 1306 it is retained, 
the place being called Clondalan. It received its 
name from Dalian Forgall, who flourished about 
the year 580 ; he was a celebrated poet, and com- 
posed a panegyric in verse on St. Columba, called 
Amhra-Choluimcille, of which we possess copies in 
a very old dialect of the Irish. From him also 
the church of Kildallan in Cavan, and some other 
churches derived their names (see Reeves, Eccl. 
Ant., p. 114). 

Except in a very few cases, cluain is represented 
in the present names by either clon or cloon ; and 
there are about 1,800 places in Ireland whose 
names begin with one or the other of these syl- 
lables. Clon is found in the following names : 
Clonmellon in Westmeath is written by the Four 
Masters, Cluain-Mildin, Milan's Meadow. Clonmel 
in Tipperary, they write Cluain-meala (meadow of 
honey), which is the Irish name used at present : 
this name, which it bore long before the founda- 
tion of the town, originated, no doubt, from the 
abundance of wild bees' nests. There is also a 
Clonmel near Glasnevin, Dublin, and another in 
King's County. Clonmult, the meadow of the 
wethers, is the name of a village and parish in 
Cork, and of a townland in Cavan. 

With eloon are formed Cloontuskert in Roscom- 
mon, which is written in the Annals Cluain- 
tuaiscert, the northern meadow ; Cloonlogher, the 
name of a parish in Leitrim, Cluain-luachra, the 
meadow of rushes ; Cloonkeen, a very common 
townland name, Cluain-caoin, beautiful meadow, 
which is also very often anglicised Clonkeen. 
Clonkeen in Gal way is written Cluain-cain-Cairill 
in " Hy Many," from Cairell, a primitive Irish 
saint : and it is still very usually called Clonkeen- 
Kerrill. Sometimes the word is in composition 

236 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART. 11. 

pronounced din, as we see in Bracklin, the same 
as Brackloon, both townland names of frequent 
occurrence, derived from Breac-chluain (Four 
Mast.), speckled meadow ; and of similar forma- 
tion are Mucklin, Mucklone, and Muckloon, pig 

Two forms of the diminutive are in use : one 
Cluainin [Clooneen], occurs in the Four Masters, 
and in the form Clooneen (little meadow), it gives 
name to a great many townlands, chiefly in the 
west of Ireland. The other diminutive, Cluaintin, 
in the anglicised form Cloonteen, is the name of 
several places in Connaught and Munster. The 
plural of cluain is cluainte [cloonty], and this also 
enters into names. It is sometimes made cloonta, 
as in Cloontabonniv in Clare, the meadows of the 
bonnives or young pigs ; Cloontakillew and Cloon- 
takilla in Mayo, the meadows of the wood. But 
it is much oftener made Cloonty, or with the 
double plural Cloonties ; which are themselves the 
names of several places. Occasionally it is made 
clinty in Ulster, as in Clinty in the parish of 
Kirkinriola in Antrim ; Clintycracken in Tyrone, 
Cluainte-croiceann, the meadows of the skins, so 
called probably from being used as a place for 

Tuar [toor] signifies a bleach -green ; in an ex- 
tended sense it is applied to any place where 
things were spread out to dry, and very often to 
fields along small streams, the articles being 
washed in the stream, and dried on its banks ; 
nnd it was sometimes applied to spots where cattle 
used to feed and sleep. The word is used in 
Munster, Connaught, and Leinster, but does not 
occur at all in the Ulster counties. 

Toor is the almost universal anglicised form 
and this and Tooreen or Tourin (little bleach- 

CHAP, vii.] Agriculture and Pasturage. 237 

green) are the names of more than sixty town- 
lands in the three provinces : as a part of com- 
pounds, it helps to give names to a still larger 
number. Toornageeha in Waterford and Kerry, 
signifies the bleach-green of the wind ; Toorfune 
in Tipperary, fair or white- coloured bleach- green ; 
Tooreennablauha in Kerry, the little bleach-green 
of the flowers (bldth) ; Tooreennagrena in Cork, 
sunny little bleach-green. 

It occasionally exhibits other forms in the 
Leinster counties. The Irish name of Ballitore, 
a village in Kildare, is Bel-atha-a'-tuair [Bella- 
toor], the ford-mouth of the bleach-green, and it 
took this name from a ford on the river Greece ; 
Monatore (moin a bog) occurs in Wicklow and 
Kildare ; Tintore in Queen's County is in Irish 
Tigh-an-tuair [Teentoor], the house of the bleach- 
green ; and the same name without the article 
becomes Tithewer, near Newtownmountkennedy 
in Wicklow. 

The peasantry in most parts of Ireland use a 
kind of double axe for grubbing or rooting up 
the surface of coarse land ; it is called a grafdn 
[graffaun], from the verb graf, to write, engrave, 
or scrape, cognate with Greek grapho. Lands 
that have been grubbed or grafted with this instru- 
ment have in many cases received and preserved 
names, formed on the verb graf, that indicates 
the operation. This is the origin of those names 
that begin with the syllable graf; such as Graff a, 
Graffan, Graffee, Graffoge, Grafnn, and Graffy, 
which are found in the four provinces, and all of 
which signify grubbed land. 

Ploughing by the horsetail, and burning corn in 
the ear, were practised in Ireland down to a com- 
paratively recent period ; Arthur Young witnessed 
both in operation less than a hundred years ago : 

238 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

but at that time they had nearly disappeared, 
partly on account of acts of Parliament framed 
expressly to prevent them, and partly through 
the increasing intelligence of the people. Loisgredn 
[lusgraun] is the term applied to corn burnt in 
the ear ; and the particular spots where the pro- 
cess was carried on are in many cases indicated by 
names formed on this word. 

The modern forms do not in general depart 
much from what would be indicated by the origi- 
nal pronunciation ; it is well represented in 
Knockaluskraun and Knockloskeraun in Clare, 
each the name of a hill (knock) where corn used 
to be burned. The simple term gives name to 
Loskeran near Ardrnore in Waterford. 

Sometimes the word is pronounced lustraun; 
and this form is seen in Caherlustraun near Tuam 
in Galway, where the corn used to be burned in 
an ancient caher or stone fort ; in Lugalustran in 
Leitrim, and Stralustrin in Fermanagh, the hol- 
low, and the river holm of the burnt corn. 

Land burnt in any way, whether by accident or 
design for agricultural purposes as, for instance, 
when heath was burnt to encourage the growth of 
grass, as noticed by Boate (Nat. Hist. XIII., 4) 
was designated by the word loisgthe [luske], 
burnt ; which in modern names is usually changed 
to lusky, losky, or lusk. Ballylusky and Ballylusk, 
i. e. Baileloisgthe, burnt town, are the names of 
several townlands, the former being found in the 
Munster counties, and the latter in Leinster ; 
while it is made Ballylosky in Donegal : Molosky 
in Clare, signifies burnt plain: Mo = magh, a 

Sometimes the word teotdn [totaun], a burning, 
is employed to express the game thing, as in 
Knockatotaun in Mayo and Sligo, Cnoc-a'-teotain, 

CHAP, viz.] Agriculture and Pasturage. 239 

the hill of the burning : Parkatotaun in Limerick, 
the field of the burning. 

It was formerly customary with those who kept 
cattle to spend a great part of the summer 
wandering about with their herds among the 
mountain pastures, removing from place to place, 
as the grass became exhausted. During the 
winter they lived in their lowland villages, and as 
soon as they had tilled a spot of land in spring, 
they removed with their herds to the mountains 
till autumn, when they returned to gather the 
crops. (See 2nd Yol. Chap. xxvi.). 

The mountain habitations where they lived, fed 
their cattle, and carried on their dairy operations 
during the summer, were called in Irish buaile 
[boolyl, a word evidently derived from So, a cow. 
This custom existed down to the sixteenth century ; 
and the poet Spenser describes it very correctly, 
as he witnessed it in his day : " There is one use 
amongst them, to keepe their cattle, and to live 
themselves the most part of the yeare in boolies, 
pasturing upon the mountaine, and waste wilde 
places ; and removing still to fresh land, as they 
have depastured the former " (View of the State 
of Ireland; Dublin edition, 1809, p. 82). 
O'Flaherty also notices the same custom : " In 
summer time they drive their cattle to the 
mountaines, where such as looke to the cattle live 
in small cabbins for that season " (lar-Connaught, 
c. 17). The term booley was not confined to the 
mountainous districts ; for in some parts of Ireland 
it was applied to any place where cattle were fed 
or milked, or which was set apart for dairy 

Great numbers of places retain the names of 
these dairy places, and the word buaile is gene- 
rally represented in modern names by the forms 

240 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

Booley, Boley, Boola, and Boula, which are 
themselves the names of many places, and form the 
beginning of a still larger number. In Boleylug 
near Baltinglass in Wicklow, they must have 
built their " cabbins " for shelter in the lug or 
mountain hollow ; Booladurragha in Cork, and 
Booldurragh in Carlow, dark booley (Buaile- 
dorcha], probably from being shaded with trees ; 
Booleyglass, a village in Kilkenny, green booley. 

The word is combined in various other ways, 
and it assinnes other forms, partly by corruption 
and partly by grammatical inflexion. Farranboley 
near Dundrum in Dublin, is booley land ; Augh- 
volyshane in the parish of Glenkeen, Tipperary, 
is in Irish Ath-bhuaile- Sheain, the ford of John's 
booley. Ballyboley, the name of some townlands 
in Antrim and Down, Ballyvooly in the parish of 
Layd, Antrim, and Ballyvool near Inistioge, Kil- 
kenny, are all different forms of Baile-buaile, the 
town of the dairy place ; Ballynaboley, Ballyna- 
boola, and Ballynabooley, have the same meaning, 
the article na being inserted ; and Boulabally 
near Adare in Limerick, is the same name with 
the terms reversed. On Ballyboley hill near the 
source of the Larne water in Antrim, there are 
still numerous remains of the old " cabbins," ex- 
tending for two miles along the face of the hill ; 
they are called Boley houses, and the people retain 
the tradition that they were formerly used by the 
inhabitants of the valley when they drove up their 
cattle in summer to pasture on the heights (see 
Reeves, Eccl. Ant., p. 268). 

The diminutive buailtin [boolteen], and the 
plural buailte [boolty], occur occasionally : Bool- 
teens and Boolteeny (see p. 32, vi.), in Kerry and 
Tipperary, both signify little dairy places ; Boulty- 
patrick in Donegal, Patrick's booleYS- 

CHAP, vm.] Subdivisions and Measures of Land. 241 



AMONG a people who followed the double occupa- 
tion of tillage and pasturage, according as the 
country became populated, it would be divided 
and subdivided, and parcelled out among the peo- 
ple ; boundaries would be determined, and 
standards of measurement adopted. The follow- 
ing was the old partition of the country, accord- 
ing to Irish authorities: There were five pro- 
vinces : Leinster, Ulster, Connaught, Munster, 
and Meath, each of which was divided into trlcha- 
cdds (thirty hundreds) or trichas, Meath contain- 
ing 18, Connaught 30, Ulster 36, Leinster 31, 
and Munster 70 ; each tricha contained 30 baile- 
biataighs (victualler's town), and each Baile-bia- 
tach, 12 seisreachs. The division into provinces is 
still retained with some modification, but the rest 
of the old distribution is obsolete. The present 
subdivision is into provinces, counties, baronies, 
parishes, and townlands ; in all Ireland there are 
325 baronies, 2,447 parishes, and about 64,000 
townlands. Various minor subdivisions and 
standards of measurement were adopted in different 
parts of the country ; and so far as these are 
represented in our present nomenclature, I will 
notice them here.* 

The old term tricha or triucha [truha], is usually 

* For further information the reader is referred to Dr. 
Reeves's paper " On the Townland Distribution of Ireland ' 
(Proc. R. I. Academy, Vol. VII., p. 473), from which much of 
the information in this chapter has been derived ; and to a 
paper " On the Territorial Divisions of the Country," by Sir 
Thomas Larcom, prefixed to the "Relief Correspondence of th 
Commissioners of i'ublic Works." 

VOL. i. 17 

242 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

rendered by "cantred" or "district," and we 
find it giving name to the barony of Trough in 
Monaghan ; to the townland of Trough near 
O'Brien's Bridge in Clare ; and to True in the 
parish of Killyman in Tyrone. Seisreach [shesh- 
j-agh] is commonly translated " ploughland ;" it is 
said to be derived from seisear, six, and each, a 
horse, and it was used to denote the extent of land 
a six-horse plough would turn up in one year. 
We find the term in Shesheraghmore and Shesh- 
eraghscanlan near Borrisokane in Tipperary ; in 
Shesheraghkeale (keale, narrow) near Nenagh, the 
same name as Sistrakeel (see p. 60, v.) in the 
parish of Tamlaght Finlagan, Derry ; and in 
Drumsastry in Fermanagh, the ridge of the plow- 

The terms in most common use to denote portions 
of land or territory were those expressing frac- 
tional parts, of which there are five that occur 
very frequently. The word kath [lah] signifies 
half, and we find it forming part of names all over 
Ireland. Thus when a seisreach was divided into 
two equal parts, each was called leath-sheisreach 
[lahesheragh], half plowland, which gives name 
to Lahesheragh in Kerry, to Lahesseragh in Tip- 
perary, and to Ballynalahessery near Dungarvan 
in Waterf 01 d, which signifies the town of the half- 
plowland. In like manner, half a townland was 
denoted by the term Leath-bhaile, pronounced, and 
generally anglicised, Lavally and Levally, which 
are the names of about thirty townlands scattered 
through the four provinces. Laharan, the name 
of many places in Cork and Kerry, signifies lite- 
rally half land, Irish Lcath-fhearann, the initial/ 
mfearann (land) being rendered silent by aspira- 
tion (see p. 20). 

The territory of Lecale in Down, now forming 

CHAP, viii.] Subdivisions and Measures of Land. 243 

two baronies, is called in the Irish authorities 
Leth-Cathail, Cathal's half or portion. Cathal 
[Cahal], who was fifth in descent from Deman, 
king of Ulidia in the middle of the sixth century, 
flourished about the year 700 ; and in a division 
of territory this district was assigned to him, and 
took his name. It had been previously called 
Magh-inis, which Colgan translates Insula campes- 
tris, the level island, being a plain tract nearly 
surrounded by the sea. 

Trian [treen] denotes the third part of any- 
thing ; it was formerly a territorial designation 
in frequent use, and it has descended to the pre- 
sent time in the names of several places. A tri- 
partite division of territory in Tipperary gave 
origin to the name of the barony of Middle- 
third, which is a translation from the Irish Trian- 
meadhanach [managh] as used by the Four Mas- 
ters. There was a similar division in "Waterford, 
and two of the three parts now two baronies 
are still known by the names of Middlethird and 
Upperthird. The barony of Duffer in in Down 
is called by the Four Masters Dubh-thrian [Duv- 
reen], the black third, the sound of which is very 
well represented in the present name ; the same 
as Diffreen in Leitrim, near Glencar lake. 

Trian generally takes the form of Trean and 
Trien, which constitute or begin the names of 
about 70 townlands in the four provinces. Treana- 
mullin, near Stranorlar in Donegal, signifies the 
third part or division of the mill, i. e. having a 
mill on it ; Treanf ohanaun in Mayo, the thistle- 
producing third ; Treanlaur in Galway and Mayo, 
middle third ; Treanmanagh in Clare, Kerry, and 
Limerick, same meaning ; Trienaltenagh in Lon- 
donderry, the third of the precipices or cliffs. 

Ceathramhadh [carhoo or carrow] signifies a 

244 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART 11. 

quarter, from ceathair [cahir] four. The old town- 
lands or ballybetaghs, were very often divided 
into quarters, each of which was commonly desig- 
nated by this word ceathramhadh, which, in the 
present names generally takes one of the two 
forms carrow, and carhoo ; the former being the 
more usual, but the latter occurring very often in 
Cork and Kerry. Carrow forms or begins the 
names of more than 700 townlands, and Carhoo 
of about 30 ; and another form, Carrive, occurs in 
some of the northern counties. 

The four quarters into which the townland was 
divided were generally distinguished from one 
another by adjectives descriptive of size, position, 
shape, or quality of the land, or by suffixing the 
names of the occupiers. Thus, there are more 
than 60 modern townlands called Carrowkeel, 
Ceathramhadh-cael, narrow quarter ; Carrowgarriff 
and Carrowgarve, rough (garbh) quarter, is the 
name of sixteen ; there are 25 called Carrowbane 
and Carrowbaun, white quarter ; 24 called Car- 
rowbeg, little quarter ; and more than 60 called 
Carrowmore, great quarter. Lecarrow, half- 
quarter, gives name to about 60 townlands, the 
greater number of them in Connaught. 

A fifth part is denoted by coigeadh [coga] : the 
application of this term to land is very ancient, for 
in the old form coiced it occurs in the Book of 
Armagh, where it is translated quinta pars. In 
later times it was often used in the sense of 
"province," which application evidently origi- 
nated in the division of Ireland into five provinces. 
In its primitive signification of a fifth part pro- 
bably the fifth part of an ancient townland 
has given names to several places. Cooga, its 
most usual modern form, is the name of several 
townlands in Connaught and Munster ; there are 

CHAP. vin/J Subdivisions and Measures of Land. 245 

three townlands in Mayo called Coogue ; and 
Coogaquid in Clare, signifies literally " fifth part ;" 
cuid, a part. 

Seiseadh [shesha] the sixth part ; to be distin- 
guished from seisreach. As a measure of land, it 
was usual in Ulster and north Connaught, whore 
in the forms Sess, Sessia, Sessiagh, it gives namea 
to about thirty townlands. It occurs also in 
Munster, though in forms slightly different ; as in 
the case of Sheshia in Clare, and Sheshiv in 
Limerick ; Shesharoe in Tipperary, red sixth ; 
Sheshodonnell in Clare, O'Donnell's sixth part. 

Several other Irish terms were employed ; such 
as Ballyboe or "cow-land," which prevailed in some 
of the Ulster counties, and which is still a very 
common townland name in Donegal. In some of 
the counties of Munster, they had in use a measure 
called gniomh [gneeve], which was the twelfth 
part of a plowland ; and this term occurs occasiou- 
ally in the other provinces. It has given name to 
about twenty townlands now called Gneeve and 
Gneeves, the greater number of them in Cork and 
Kerry. There is a place in the parish of Kil- 
macabea, Cork, called Three- gneeves ; and in the 
same county there are two townlands, each called 
Two- gneeves. 

In many parts of Ireland the Anglo-Norman 
settlers introduced terms derived from their own 
language, and several of these are now very 
common as townland names. Cartron signifies a 
quarter, and is derived through the French quar- 
teron from the medioeval Lat. quarteronus ; it was 
in very common use in Connaught as well as in 
Longford, Westmeath, and King's County; and 
it was applied to a parcel of land varying in 
amount from 60 to 160 acres. There are about 
80 townlands called Cartron, chiefly in Connaught, 

246 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

and 60 others of whose names it forms the be- 
ginning. The terms with which it is compounded 
are generally Irish, such as Cartronganny near 
Mullingar, Cartron- gainimh, sandy cartron; Car- 
tronnagilta in Cavan, the cartron of the reeds ; 
Cartronrathroe in Mayo, the cartron of the red 

Tate or tath appears to be an English word, and 
meant 60 native Irish acres. It occurs chiefly in 
Fermanagh, Monaghan, and Tyrone, generally in 
the forms tat, tatt, and tatty ; and, as in the case 
of cartron, it usually compounds with Irish words. 
Tattynageeragh in the parish of Clones in Fer- 
managh, the tate of the sheep ; Tattintlieve in 
Monaghan, the tate of the slieve or mountain. 

In Cavan, certain measures of land were called 
by the names poll, gallon, and pottle. Thus Pol- 
lakeel is the narrow poll; Pollamore, great poll, 
&c. In most other counties, however, poll is an 
Irish word signifying a hole. Pottlebane and 
Pottleboy in Cavan, signify white and yellow 
pottle, respectively; Gallonnambraher the friar's 
gallon, &c. 



names involving numerical combinations 
are found all over the world, a careful examina- 
tion would be pretty sure to show that each people 
had a predilection for one or more particular num- 
bers. During my examination of Irish proper 
names, I have often been struck with the constant 

CHAP, ix.] Numerical Combinations. 247 

recurrence of the numbers two and three; and 
after having specially investigated the subject, I 
have found, as I hope to be able to show, that 
names involving these two numbers are so numer- 
ous as to constitute a distinct peculiarity, and 
that this is the case most especially with regard 
to the number two. 

I never saw it stated that the number two was 
in Ireland considered more remarkable than any 
other; but from whatever cause it may have 
arisen, certain it is that there existed in the 
minds of the Irish people a distinctly marked 
predilection to designate persons or places, where 
circumstances permitted it, by epithets expressive 
of the idea of duality, the epithet being founded 
on some circumstance connected with the object 
named ; and such circumstances were often seized 
upon to form a name in preference to others 
equally or more conspicuous. We have, of course, 
as they have in all countries, names with combi- 
nations of other numbers, and those containing 
the number three are very numerous ; but the 
number two is met with many times more fre- 
quently than all the others put together. 

The Irish word for two that occurs in names is 
da or dhd, both forms being used ; da is pro- 
nounced daw ; but in the other form, dh, which 
has a peculiar and rather faint guttural sound, is 
altogether suppressed in modern names ; the word 
dhd being generally represented by the vowel a, 
while in many cases modern contraction has obli- 
terated every trace of a representative letter. 
It is necessary to bear in mind that da or dhd 
generally causes aspiration, and in a few cases 
eclipses consonants and prefixes n to vowels (see 
pp. 19 ind 21, supra). 

We find names involving the number two re- 

248 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART IT. 

corded in Irish history, from the most ancient 
authorities down to the MSS. of the seventeenth 
century, and they occur in proportion quite as 
numerously as at the present day ; showing that 
this curious tendency is not of modern origin, but 
that it has descended, silent and unnoticed, from 

of the most remote antiquity. 
There is a village and parish in the north-west 
of Tipperary, on the shore of Lough Derg, now 
called Terryglass ; its Irish name, as used in 
many Irish authorities, is Tir-da-ghlas, the terri- 
tory of the two streams ; and the identity of this 
with the modern Terryglass is placed beyond all 
doubt by a passage in the " Life of St. Fin tan of 
Clonenagh," which describes Tir-da-glas as "in 
the territory of Munster, near the river Shannon." 
The great antiquity of this name is proved by the 
fact that it is mentioned by Adamnan in his 
" Life of St. Columba" (Lib. n., Cap. xxxvi.), 
written in the end of the seventh century; but 
according to his usual custom, instead of the 
Irish name, he gives the Latin equivalent : in the 
heading of the chapter it is called Ager duorum 
rivorum, and in the text JKus duum rivulorum, 
either of which is a correct translation of Tir-da- 
ghlas* There is a subdivision of the townland 
of Clogher in the parish of Kilnoe, Clare, called 
Terryglass, which has the same Irish form and 
meaning as the other. 

In the Book of Leinster there is a short poem, 
ascribed to Finn Mac Cumhail, accounting for the 
name of Magh-da-ghem, in Leinster, the plain of 
the two swans; and the Dinnsenchus gives a 
legend about the name of the river Owendalulagh, 

* See Reeves's Adamnan, where ager duorum rivorum is 
jder^rfied with Terryglass. 

CHAP, ix.] Numerical Combinations. 249 

which rises on the slope of Slieve Aughty, and 
flows into Lough Cooter near Gort in Gralway. 
This legend states, that when Echtghe [Ekte] 
a Dedannan lady, married Fergus Lusca, cup- 
boarer to the king of Connaught, she brought 
with her two cows, remarkable for their milk- 
bearing fruitfulness, which were put to graze on 
the banks of this stream ; and from this circum- 
stance it was called Abhainn-da-loilgheach, the 
river of the two milch cows. According to the 
same authority, Slieve Aughty took its name from 
this lady Sliabh- Echtghe, Echtghe's mountain. 
Several other instances of names of this class, 
mentioned in ancient authorities, will be cited as 
I proceed. This word loilgheach appears in the 
name of a lake in the north of Armagh, near the 
south-west corner of Lough TsTeagh, called Derry- 
lileagh, which means the derry or oak-grove of the 
milch cows. 

Though this peculiarity is not so common in 
personal as in local names, yet the number of 
persons mentioned in Irish writings whose names 
involve the number two, is sufficiently large to be 
very remarkable. The greater number of these 
names appear to be agnomina, which described 
certain peculiarities of the individuals, and which 
were imposed for the sake of distinction, after a 
fashion prevalent among most nations before the 
institution of surnames. (See Vol. II., Ch. ix.). 

One of the three Collas who conquered Ulster in 
the fourth century (see p. 137) was called Colla- 
da-Chrich, Colla of the two territories. Da-chrich 
was a favourite sobriquet, and no doubt, in case of 
each individual, it records the fact of his connec- 
tion, either by possession or residence, with two 
countries or districts ; in case of Colla, it most 
probably refers to two territories in Ireland and 

250 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

Scotland, in the latter of which he lived some 
years in a state of banishment before his invasion 
of Ulster. In the Martyrology of Donegal there 
are nine different persons mentioned, called Fer- 
da-chrich, the man of the two territories. 

The word Dubh applied to a dark-visaged per- 
son is often followed by da; thus the Four 
Masters mention two persons named Dubh-da- 
bharc, the black (man) of the two ships ; four, 
named Dubh-da-chrich ; eight, Dubh-da-bhoireann 
(of the two stony districts ?) ; two, Dubh-da-inbher, 
of the two estuaries ; one, Dubh-da-ingean, of the 
two daughters ; four, Dubh-da-leithe, of the two 
sides or parties ; and two, Dubh-da-thuath, of the 
two districts or cantreds. In the "Genealogy of 
Corcaluidhe " we find Dubh-da-mhagh, of the two 
plains; and in the Martyrology of Donegal 
Dubh-da-locha, of the two lakes. 

Fiacha Muilleathan, king of Munster in the 
third century, was called Fer-da-liach, the man of 
the two sorrows, because his mother died and his 
father was killed in the battle of Magh Mucruimhe 
on the day of his birth. The father of Maine 
Mor, the ancestor of the Hy Many, was Eochaidh, 
surnamed Fer-da-ghiall, the man of the two hos- 
tages. Many more names might be cited, if it 
were necessary to extend this list ; and while the 
number two is so common, we meet with few 
names involving any other number except three. 

It is very natural that a place should be named 
from two prominent objects forming part of it, or 
in connection with it, and names of this kind are 
occasionally met with in most countries. The 
fact that they occur in Ireland would not be con- 
sidered remarkable, were it not for these two 
circumstances first, they are, beyond all compa- 
rison, more numerous than could be reasonablv 

CHAP, ix.] Numerical Combinations. 251 

expected ; and secondly, the word da is usually 
expressed, and forms part of the names. 

Great numbers of places are scattered here and 
there through the country whose names express 
position between two physical features, such as 
rivers, mountains, lakes, &c., those between two 
rivers being the most numerous. Killederdaowen 
in the parish of Duniry, Galway, is called in 
Irish, Coill-eder-da-abhainn, the wood between two 
rivers ; and Killadrown, in the parish of Drum- 
cullen, King's County, is evidently the same word 
shortened by local corruption. Dromderaown in 
Cork, and Dromdiraowen in Kerry, are both 
modern forms of Druim- dir-dhd-abhainn, the ridge 
between two rivers, where the Irish dhd is repre- 
sented by a in the present names. In Cloone- 
derown, Galway the meadow between two rivers 
there is no representative of the dha, though it 
exists in the Irish name ; and a like remark 
applies to Ballyederown (the townland between 
two rivers), an old castle situate in the angle 
where the rivers Funshion and Araglin in Cork 
mingle their waters. Coracow in the parish of 
Killaha, Kerry, is a name much shortened from 
its original Comhrac-dhd-abha, the meeting of the 
two streams. The Four Masters, at A.D. 528, re- 
cord a battle fought at a place called Luachair- 
mor-etir-da-inbhir, the large rushy place between 
two river mouths, otherwise called Ailbhe or Cluain- 
Ailbhe (Ailbhe's meadow), now Clonalvy in the 
county Meath. 

With glaise (a stream) instead of abhainn, we 
have Ederdaglass, the name of two townlands in 
Fermanagh, meaning (a place) between two streams; 
and Drumederglass in Cavan, the ridge between 
two streams. Though all trace of da is lost in 
this name, it is preserved in the Down Survey, 
where the place is called Drumaderdaglass. 

"252 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n 

Ederdacurragh in Fermanagh, means (a place) 
between two marshes ; Aderavoher in Sligo, is in 
Irish Eadar-dha-bhothair (a place) between two 
roads, an idea that is otherwise expressed in 
Gouldavoher near Mungret, Limerick, the fork of 
the two roads. Dromdiralough in Kerry, the 
ridge between two lakes, and Drumederalena in 
Sligo, the ridge between the two lenas or meadows ; 
Inchideraille near Inchigeelagh, is in Irish Inis- 
idir-dha-fhdill, the island or river holm between 
two cliffs ; a similar position has given name to 
Derdaoil or Dariel, a little village in the parish of 
Kilmastulla, Tipperary, which is shortened from 
the Irish Idir-da-fhaill, between two cliffs ; Cloon- 
deravally in Sligo, the cloon or meadow between 
the two bailies or townlands. 

Crockada in the parish of Clones, Fermanagh, 
is only a part of the Irish name, Cnoc-edar-da- 
ghreuch, the hill between the two marshy flats ; 
and the true form of the present name would be 
Knockadder. Mogh, the name of a townland in 
the parish of Rathlynin, Tipperary, is also an 
abbreviation of a longer name; the inhabitants 
call it Magh-idir-dha-abhainn, the plain between 
two rivers. 

The well-known old church of Aghadoe, near 
Killarney, which gives name to a parish, is called 
by the Four Masters, at 1581, Achadh-da-eo, the 
field of the two yew-trees, which must have been 
growing near each other, and must have been 
sufficiently large and remarkable to attract general 
attention. Part of the townland of Drumharkan 
Glebe in the parish of Cloone, Leitrim, is called 
Cooldao, the back of the two yews. In the town- 
land of Cornagee, parish of KHlinagh, Cavan, there 
is a deep cavern, into which a stream sinks ; it is 
called Polladaossan, the hole of the two dossans or 

CHAP, ix.] Numerical Combinations* 253 

Near Crossmolina in Mayo, is a townland called 
Grlendavoolagh, the glen of the two boolies or 
dairy places. In the parish of Killashee, Long- 
ford, there is a village and townland called Clooii- 
dara, containing the ruins of what was once an 
important ecclesiastical establishment ; it is men- 
tioned by the Four Masters at 1323, and called 
Cluain-da-rath, the meadow of the two raths ; and 
there is a townland of the same name in the 
narish of Tisrara, Roscommon. 

The parish of Donagh in Monaghan, takes its 
name from an old church, the ruins of which are 
still to be seen near the village of Glasslough; 
it is mentioned twice by the Four Masters, and its 
full name, as written by them, is Domhnach- 
maighe-da-chlaoine [Donagh-moy-da-cleena], the 
church of the plain of the two slopes. Dromda- 
league or Dromaleague, the name of a village and 
parish in Cork, signifies the ridge of the two 
stones. Ballydehob in the south of the same 
county, took its name from a ford which is called 
in Irish Bel-atha-da-chab, the ford of the two cabs 
or mouths ; the two mouths, I suppose, describing 
some peculiarity of shape. 

Several places derive their names from two 
plains ; thus Damma, the name of two townlands 
in Kilkenny, is simply Da-mhagh two plains ; 
Rosdama in the parish of Grange, same county, 
the wood of the two plains. That part of the 
King's County now occupied by the baronies of 
Warrenstown and Coolestown, was anciently 
called Tuath-da-Mhaighe, the district of the two 
plains, by which name it is frequently mentioned 
in the annals, and which is sometimes anglicised 
Tethmoy ; the remarkable hill of Drumcaw, 
giving name to a townland in this neighbourhood, 
was anciently called Druim-di-mhaighe, from the 

254 Historical and LegencCary Names. [PART n. 

same district ; and we find Glendavagh, the glen 
)f the two plains, in the parish of Aghaloo, 

The valley of Glendalough in Wicklow, takes 
its name from the two lakes so well known to 
tourists ; it is called in Irish authorities Gleann- 
da-locha, which the author of the Life of St. Kevin 
translates " the valley of the two lakes ; " and 
other glens of the same name in Waterford, Kerry, 
and Galway, are also so called from two lakes near 
each other. There is an island in the Shannon, 
in the parish of Killadysert, Clare, called Inish- 
dadroum, which is mentioned in the " Wars of 
GG." by the name of Inis-da-dromand, the island 
of the two drums or backs, from its shape : and a 
similar peculiarity of form has given name to 
Inishdavar in the parish of Derryvullan, Ferma- 
nagh (of the two barrs or tops) ; to Cornadarum, 
Fermanagh, the round hill of the two drums or 
ridges ; and to Corradeverrid in Cavan, the hill of 
the two caps (barred}. Tuam in Galway is called 
in the annals Tuaim-da-ghualann, the tumulus of 
the two shoulders, evidently from the shape of the 
ancient sepulchral mound from which the place 
has its name. 

Desertcreat, a townland giving name to a parish 
in Tyrone, is mentioned by the Four Masters as 
the scene of a battle between the O'Neills and the 
O'Donnells, in A. D. 1281, and it is called by them 
Diseart-da-chrioch, the desert or hermitage of the 
two territories ; they mention also a place called 
Magh-da-chairneach, the plain of the two earns ; 
Magh-da-ghabhal, the plain of the two forks; 
Ailiun-da-bhernach, the island of the two gaps ; 
Magh-da-Chainncach, the plain of the two Cain- 
neachs (men). The district between Lough Cong 
and the river Moy was anciently called An Da 

CHAP, ix.] Numerical Combinations. 255 

Bhac, the two bends, under which, name it is fre- 
quently mentioned in the annals. 

There is a townland in the parish of Rossinver, 
Leitrim, called Lisdarush, the fort of the two 
promontories ; on the side of Hungry Hill, west of 
Glengarriff in Cork, is a small lake which is called 
Coomadavallig, the hollow of the two roads ; in 
Roscommon we find Cloondacarra, the meadow of 
the two weirs ; the Four Masters mention Clar- 
atha-da-charadh, the plain (or footboard) of the 
ford of the two weirs ; and Charlemont in Tyrone 
was anciently called Achadh-an-da-charadh* the 
field of the two weirs. Gubbacrock in the 
parish of Killesher, Fermanagh, is written in 
Irish Gob-dha-chnoc, the beak or point of the two 

Dundareirke is the name of an ancient castle in 
Cork, built by the Mac Carthys, signifying the 
fortress of the two prospects (Dun-da-radharc) , 
and the name is very suitable ; for, according to 
Smith, " it is on a hill and commands a vast ex- 
tended view as far as Kerry, and east almost to 
Cork ; " there is a townland of the same name in 
the parish of Danesfort, Kilkenny, printed in the 
Ordnance Maps Dundaryark, but locally pro- 
nounced Dundarerk : and the old dun does actually 
command two wide views. 

The preceding names were derived from con- 
spicuous physical features, and their origin is 
therefore natural enough, so far as each individual 
name is concerned ; their great number, as already 
remarked, is what gives them significance. But 
those I am now about to bring forward admit in 
general of no such explanation, and appear to me 
to prove still more conclusively the existence of 
this remarkable disposition in the minds of the 
people, to look out for groups of two. Here also, 

256 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

as in the preceding class, names crowd upon us 
with remarkable frequency, both in ancient au- 
thorities and in the modern list of townlands. 

Great numbers of places have been named from 
two animals of some kind. If we are to explain 
these names from natural occurrences, we must 
believe that the places were so called because they 
were the favourite haunt of the two animals com- 
memorated ; but it is very strange that so many 
places should be named from just two, while there 
are very few from one, three, or any other number 
except in the general way of a genitive singular 
or a genitive plural. Possibly it may be explained 
to some extent by the natural pairing of male and 
female ; but this will not explain all, nor even a 
considerable part, as anyone may see from tha 
illustrations that follow. I believe that most or 
all of these names have their origin in legends 
or superstitions, and that the two animals were 
very often supernatural, viz., fairies or ghosts, oi 
human beings transformed by Dedannan enchant- 

We very frequently meet with two birds da- en. 
A portion of the Shannon near Clonmacnoise was 
anciently called Snamh-da-e'n [Snauv-da-ain], the 
mauv or swimming-ford of the two birds. The 
parish of Duneane in Antrim has got its present 
name by a slight contraction from Dun-da-en, the 
fortress of the two birds, which is its name in the 
Irish authorities, among others, the Felire of 
Aengus. There is a mountain stretching between 
Lough Gill and Collooney, Sligo, which the Four 
Masters mention at 1196 by the name of Sliabh- 
dd-en, the mountain of the two birds, now called 
Slieve Daeane ; it is curious that a lake on the 
north side of the same mountain is called Lough 
Dagea, the lake of the two geese, which are 

CHAP. ix.J Numerical Combinations. 257 

probably the two birds that gave name to the 
mountain. There is a townland in the parish of 
Kinawly, Fermanagh, called Rossdanean, the 
peninsula of two birds; Balladian near Bally 
bay in Monaghan, is correctly Bealach-a* '-da-em 
(bealach, a pass) ; and Colgan (A. SS., p. 42, 
note 9) mentions a place near Lough Nea^h, 
called Cluain-dd-en, the meadow of the twu 

Two birds of a particular kind have also given 
their names to several places, and among these, 
two ravens seem to be favourites. In the parish 
of Kinawly, Fermanagh, is a townland called 
Aghindaiagh, in Irish Achadh-an-da-fhiach, the 
field of the two ravens ; in the townland of Kil- 
colman, parish of same name, Kerry, is a pit or 
cavern called Poll-da-fhiach, the hole of the two 
ravens ; we find in Cavan, Neddaiagh, the nest of 
the two ravens ; in Gralway, Cuilleendaeagh, and 
in Kerry Grlandaeagh, the little wood, and the 
glen of the two ravens. The parish of Balteagh 
in Down is sometimes written in old documents, 
Ballydaigh, and sometimes Boydafeigh, pointing 
to Baik-da-fhiach or Both-da-fhiach (this last form 
is used in O'Clery's Cal.), the town or the hut of the 
two ravens " preserving the tradition that two 
ravens flew away with the plumb-line from the 
cemetery Rellick in the townland of Kilhoyle, 
where the parishioners were about to erect their 
church, to Ardmore, the townland where the site 
was at length fixed "(Reeves: Colt. Vis. 133). With 
Branog, another name for the same bird, we have 
Brannock Island, near Great Aran Island, Galway 
Bay, which is called in Irish Oilean-da-bhranog 
(O'Flaherty, lar Connaught), the island of the two 
ravens. Aghadachor in Donegal, means the field 
of the two herous or cranes. There is a townland 


258 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

in the parish of Killinvoy, Roscommon, whose 
name is improperly anglicised Lisdaulan ; the 
Four Masters at 1380, call it Lios da- Ion, the fort 
of the two blackbirds. 

Several places get their names from two hounds ; 
such as Moyacomb in Wicklow (see p. 52) ; Cahir- 
acon, two townlands in Clare, which are called to 
this day in Irish Cathair-dha-chon, the caher or 
ptone fortress of the two hounds ; and Lisdachon 
in Westmeath. In the parish of Devenish, Fer- 
managh, there are two conterminous townlands 
called Big Dog and Little Dog ; these singular 
appellations derive their origin from the modern 
division into two unequal parts, of an ancient 
tract which is called in the annals, Sliabh-da- 
chon, the mountain of the two hounds. We find 
also Cloondacon in Mayo, the meadow of the two 

In several other places we have two oxen com- 
memorated, as in Cloondadauv in Gralway, which 
the annalists write Cluain-dd-damh, the meadow of 
the two oxen ; Rossdagamph in Fermanagh, and 
Aughadanove, Armagh, the promontory and the 
field of the two oxen ; in the first, d is changed to 
g (see p. 56), and in the second, da prefixes n to 
the vowel. At the year 606, the Four Masters 
mention a lake in which a crannoge was built, 
situated in Oriel, but not now known, called Loch- 
da-damh, the lake of the two oxen. 

Two bucks are commemorated in such names as 
Ballydavock, Cappadavock, Glendavock, Lisda- 
vock (town, plot, glen, fort), and Attidavock, the 
site of the house of the two bucks. The parish of 
Clonyhurk in .King's County, containing the town 
of Portarlington, takes its name from a townland 
which the Four Masters call Cluain-da-thorc, the 
meadow of the two bors ; Glendahurk in Mayo is 

CHAP, ix.] Numerical Combinations. 258 

the glen of the two boars; and Lisdavuck in 
King's County, the fort of the two pigs (muc, a 

Cloondanagh in Clare is in Irish Cluain-da- 
neach, the meadow of the two horses ; we find the 
same two animals in Tullyloughdaugh in Ferma- 
nagh, and Aghadaugh in Westmeath ; the second 
meaning the field, and the first the hill of the 
lake of the two horses; and Clondelara, near 
Clonmacnoise, is the meadow of the two mares. 
Clondalee in the parish of Killyon, Meath, is 
called in Irish Cluain-da- laegh, the meadow of the 
two calves. Aghadavoyle in Armagh is the field 
of the two niaels, or hornless cows ; two animals 
of the same kind have given name to a little island 
in Mayo, viz., Inishdaweel, while we have two 
yellow cows in Inishdauwee, the name of tw 
townlands in Gralway. 

There is a legend concerning the origin of Clon- 
dagad in Clare, the cloon of the two gads or 
withes, and another accounting for the nane Z)tn- 
da-kth-glas, anciently applied to the great rath at 
Downpatrick, the fortress of the two broken locks 
or fetters. The two remarkable mountains in 
Kerry now called the Paps, were anciently called, 
and are still, in Irish, Da-chich-Danainne [Da-kee- 
Dannina], the two paps of Danann (see p. 164) ; 
and the plain on which they stand is called Bun- 
a'-da-chich, the bottom or foundation of the two 
Paps; Drumahaire, the name of a village in 
Leitrim, signifies the ridge of the two air- spirits 
or demons ' v seep. 194). 

In this great diversity it must be supposed that 
two persons would find a place ; and accordingly 
we find Kildaree, the church of the two king--, 
the name of two townlands in Galway (for w^ich 
see Sir William Wilde'.. " Lough Corrci "'. and 

260 Historical and Legendary Names. [PARTII 

of another near Crossmolina, Mayo. There is a 
fort one mile south of the village of Killoscully, 
Tipperary, called Lisdavraher, the fort of the two 
friars ; and there is another of the same name in 
the south of Ballymoylan townland, parish of 
Youghalarra, in the same county. In both these 
cases the friars were probably ghosts. 

There is a parish called Toomore in the county 
of Mayo, taking its name from an old church 
standing near the river Moy ; it is also the name 
of a townland in the parish of Aughrim, Roscom- 
mon, and of a townland and -parish in Sligo. 
This is a very curious and a very ancient name. 
Toomore in Mayo is written Tuaim-da-bhodhar by 
Duald Mac Firbis and the Four Masters ; and 
Tuaim-da-bhodar in a poem in the "Book of 
Lecan." The pronunciation of the original ia 
Tooma-our, which easily sank into Toomore ; and 
the name signifies the tomb of the two deaf 
persons ; but who they were, neither history nor 
tradition records. 

The memory of the two venerable people who 
gave name to Cordalea in the parish of Kilmore, 
Cavan, has quite perished from the face of the 
earth, except only so far as it is preserved in the 
name Coa-da-liath, the hill of the two grey per- 
sons. Two people of a different complexion are 
commemorated in Glendaduff in Mayo, the glen 
of the two black-visaged persons. Meendacal- 
liagh in the parish of Lower Fahan, Donegal, 
means the meen or mountain flat of the two cal- 
liaghs or hags, probably a pair of those old witches 
who used to turn themselves, on Good Friday, 
into hares, and suck the cows. 

It must occur to anyone who glances through 
these names to ask himself the question what 
was the origin of this curious custom ? I cannot 

CHAP, ix.] Numerical Combinations. 261 

believe that it is a mere accident of language, or 
that it sprang up spontaneously without any 
particular cause. I confess myself wholly in the 
dark, unable to offer any explanation : I have 
never met anything that I can call to mind in the 
whole range of Irish literature tending in the 
least degree to elucidate it. Is it the remnant of 
some ancient religious belief, or some dark super- 
stition, dispelled by the light of Christianity ? or 
does it commemorate some widespread social 
custom, prevailing in time beyond the reach of 
history or tradition, leaving its track on the 
language as the only manifestation of its existence ? 
We know that among some nations certain num- 
bers were accounted sacred, like the number seven 
among the Hebrews. "Was two a sacred number 
with the primitive people of this country ? I re- 
frain from all conjecture, though the subject is 
sufficiently tempting ; I give the facts, and leave 
to others the task of accounting for them. 

The number three occurs also with remarkable 
frequency in Irish proper names, so much so that 
it would incline one to believe that the Irish had 
a predilection for grouping things in triads like 
Welsh. Dr. Reeves has observed that the old 
chroniclers often enumerate rivers in threes ; such 
as the three Uinseanns ; the three Sucks ; the three 
Finns ; the three Coimdes ; the three rivers, Sibir, 
Feil, and Ercre ; the three, Fleasc, Mand, and 
Labhrann ; the three black rivers, Fubhna, Torann 
and Callann ; the nine Brosnachs (3 x 3) ; the 
nine Righes, &c. all these taken from the Four 

Mr. Hennessy has directed my attention to a 
great number of triple combinations ; such as the 
three Tuathas or districts in Connaught ; the 
places called three castles in Kilkenny and Wick- 

262 H*tonc*I m*d tegcmimnj Nemo. [PAKT u. 

icnr ; Hemntc-tri-csrbaJ the gap of the three 
lhaiiiiti. a place in the county Clare ; the earn of 
the Ane uujuui at domnaauMse ; several place* 
called three plains ; three Connanghts ; and many 
He has also given me a long Hat, taken 

Om qu^ur* ~ 

of the diree firtnes, a **g BM "i^* of 
Canary More), which would enable me to extend 

a enaiBezation of tnnacBB much fti^jtff i lint aa 
- . - -- - - 

I ant at present concemed only about iocsi B M '""* t 
I shall eontentamyaelf with simply noting Hie iaot 
that names of this kind occur in great numbers in 
oar old writings. 

Many of these combinations were no doubt 
adopted in GSbristisja times in honour of the Trinity, 
of which the name Treret (see p. 133) i* an ex- 
ample ; and it is probable that the knowledge of 
tins mjateij diaposnd men's minds to notice more 
readily conuHi>ations ox three, and to cive names 

according}? y eren in eases where no direct re* 
fcrenae to die Trinity was intended. 

We learn die origin of Dnntryleagne 
GaibaHy in Lhwrirk, from a passage in die Book 
of Lismore, which states ***** " Connae Gas v^ing 
A Manster), son of OflioL Olom (see p. 134, 
Kfrm) favght the bailie of Knoeboona (near 
F-V .':-.--:/ ar^i-r Eo:iv AammAnaA "Ohy- 
A vnroo], king of Ulster, in which Eochy was 
lain; and Gormac was wounded (in die head}, so 
tha* he was three yean under core, with his brain 
fira t !ninn Tl j flowing from his head." Then a 
goodly d*m was cocsfimcted for him, "haringin 
the im a bfmitifql clear spang, and a great 
royal boose was bnflt orer die well, and three 
Sfgnmt (pillar stones) were placed round it, on 
which was laid the bed of the king, so that his 

CHAP, n.] Numerical Combmmtio**, 

head was in the middk between the tiiree pillars. 
And one of his ^*tnrfrntft stood ^-IY by 
him with a cop, pouring <J* wafer of ****> well o& 
his head. He died there after that, *d was 
buried in a cave within the don ; and from tins is 
(derived j the name of the place, I*t*-tri-ti*f, the 
fortress of the three pillar stones.* 

The erection of three stone* like those at Dnn- 
lijsMfJSU most have been nsoaL, for we find 
us! names containing the compound tri fisy, 
three pillar stones. It ocean simply in the form 
of Trilliek, as the name of a village in Tyrone, 
and of two townlands, one in Donegal and the 
other in Fermanagh. In the parish of Battynnv 
connick, Long&vd, there are two townlands called 
respectively, Trillickacarry and TrOliekatemple, 
the trittid: or three stones of the marsh, and of 
the church. Xear Dromore in Down, we find 
Edentrillick, and in the parish of Tvnan. Armagh, 
RathtrflHck, the first the hill brow, and the second 
the fort, of the three pillar stones. 

Several places take their names from three 
persons, who were probably joint occupiers. In 
the parish of Kilbride, Heath, fhere is a town- 
land called Ballintry, B*&-*M-tn, the town oi 
the three (persons). The more usual word em- 
ployed in this case, however, is friar [troorl, 
which means, not three in tie abstract, bat HBUB 
persons; and it is not improbable that in the last- 
mentioned name, a final r has been lost. BaDrn- 
linii in the parish of Donaghmore, Wkklow, 
has the same meaning as Baflintrv. In the parish 
of Eamoan. Antrim, is a hfll called Carntzoor, 
where three persons most have been buried under 
( earn : and in the parish of Templecorran, sante 
couaiy, is another hill called Stieveatzue. whk> 

264 Historical and Legendary Names. [PART n. 

name appears to be a corruption from Slieveatroor, 
the mountain of the three persons. 

Cavantreeduff in the parish of Cleenish, Fer- 
managh, has probably some legendary story con- 
nected with it, fh Irish name being Cabhan-tri- 
damh, the round hill of the three oxen. The 
celebrated castle of Portnatrynod at Lifford, of 
which the name is now forgotten, and even its 
very site unknown, is repeatedly mentioned in the 
Annals, and always called Port-na-dtri-namhad 
[Portnadreenaud], the port or bank of the three 
enemies; who these three hostile persons were, 
history does not tell, though the people of Lifford 
iiave a legend about them. 

There is a place in the parish of Gartan, Done- 
gal, called Bunnatreesruhan, the mouth of the 
three streamlets. A fort with three circumvalla- 
tions is often called Lisnatreeclee, or more cor- 
rectly Lisnadreeglee, i. e. in Irish, Lios-na-dtri- 
gcladh, the Us of the three mounds. Ballytober 
in the Glens of Antrim is a shortened form of the 
correct Irish name, Baik-na-dtri-dtobar, the town 
of the three springs. 

We find occasionally other numbers also in 
names. At the year 872, the Four Masters 
mention a place called Rath-aen-bo, the fort of the 
one cow. There is a place of this name, now 
called Raheanbo, in the parish of Churchtown, 
Westmeath, but whether it is the Rath-aen-bo of 
the annals is uncertain. In the parish of Maghe- 
ross, Monaghan, is a townland called Corrinenty, 
in Irish Cor-an-aen-tighe, the round hill of the 
one house ; and Boleyneendorrish is the name of 
a place near Ardrahan, Galway, signifying the 
booty or dairy-place of the one door. The island 
of Inchenagh in the north end of Lough Eee, 
near Lanesborough, is called by the Four Masters, 

CHAP, ix.] Numerical Combinations. 265 

Inis-en-daimh, the island of the one ox. In the 
parish of Rathronan, Limerick, is a townland 
called Kerrykyle, Ceithre-choill, four woods. A 
townland in the parish of Tulla, Clare, is called 
Derrykeadgran, the oak-wood of the hundred 
trees ; and there is a parish in Kilkenny called 
Tullahaught, or in Irish Tulach-ocht, the hill of 
the eight (persons). 





EFOEE the introduction of Christia- 
nity, buildings of all the various 
kinds erected in Ireland, whe- 
ther domestic, military, or se- 
pulchral, were round, or 
nearly round, in shape. 
This is sufficiently pro- 
ved by the numerous forts and 
mounds that still remain all 
over the country, and which 
are almost universally circular. 
We find, moreover, in our old 
manuscripts, many passages in which the strong- 
holds of the chiefs are described as of this shape ; 
and in the ancient Life of St. Patrick written by 
St. Evin, there is an Irish stanza quoted as the 
composition of a druid named Con, in which it is 
predicted, that the custom of building houses 
narrow and quadrangular would be introauced 
among other innovations by St. Patrick. 

CHAP , i.] Habitations and Fortresses. 267 

The domestic and military structures in use 
among the ancient Irish were denoted by the 
words Uo8y rath, dun, cathair, brugh, &c. ; and these 
terms are still in use and applied to the very same 
objects. A notion very generally prevails, though 
much less so now than formerly, that the circular 
forts which still exist in great numbers in every 
county in Ireland, were erected by the Danes; 
and they are hence very often called "Danish 
raths." It is difficult to trace the origin of this 
opinion, unless we ascribe it to the well-known 
tendency of the peasantry to attribute almost 
every remarkable ancient work to the Danes. 
These people had, of course, fortresses of some 
kind in the maritime towns where they were 
settled, such as Dublin, Limerick, Waterford Do- 
negal, &c. In the "Wars of GG." (p. 41), we 
are told that they " spread themselves over Mun- 
ster and they built duns and daingeans (strong- 
holds) and caladh-phorts " (landing ports) ; the 
Chronicon Scotorum at the year 845, records the 
erection of a dun at Lough Ree, by the Danish 
king Turgesius, from which he plundered Con- 
naught and Meath; and it is not unlikely that 
the Danes may have taken, and for a long time 
occupied, some of the strongholds they found in 
the country. But that the raths and lisses are not 
of Danish origin would be proved by this fact 
alone, that they are found in every part of Ireland, 
and more plentiful in districts where the Danes 
never gained any footing, than where they had 

There is abundance of evidence to show that 
these structures were the dwellings of the people 
of this country before the adoption of houses of a 
rectangular form ; the larger raths belonging to 
the better classes, and the great fortified duns to 

'268 Artificial Structures. [PART in 

the princes and chieftains. The remains still to 
be seen at the historic sites Tara, The Navan, 
Rathcroghan, Bruree, &c. places celebrated for 
ages as royal residences afford striking testimony 
to the truth of this ; for here we find the finest 
and most characteristic specimens of the Irish 
circular forts in all their sizes and varieties. 

But besides, in our ancient writings, they are 
constantly mentioned as residences under their 
various names of dun, rath, lios, &c. as constantly 
as houses and castles are in books of the last two 
centuries. To illustrate this, I will give a few 
passages, which I might extend almost indefi- 
nitely, if it were necessary. In the "Feast of 
Dun-na-ngedh" ("Battle of Moyrath") Congal 
Claen thus addresses his foster father, king 
Domhnall : " Thou didst place a woman of thine 
own tribe to nurse me in the garden of the lios in 
Rrhich thou dwelledst." On which O'Donovan 
remarks : " The Irish kings and chieftains lived 
at this period (A.D. 637) in the great earthen rat/is 
or lisses the ruins of which are still so numerous 
in Ireland." In the same tale we read of two 
visitors that " they were conducted into the dun, 
and a dinner sufficient for a hundred was given 
to them " (p. 22) ; and in another place, king 
Domhnall says to Congall : " Gro to view the 
great feast which is in the dun " (p. 24). 

In the "Forbais Dromadamhghaire " (see p. 
102, supra), we read that when Cormac sent to 
demand tribute from the men of Munster, they 
refused; but as there was a great scarcity in 
Cormac's dominions, they offered to relieve him 
by a gift of " a cow out of each lios in Munster ; " 
and in the poem of Dubhthach-ua-Lugair in the 
Book of Leinster, celebrating the triumphs of 
Enna Kinsellagh, king of Leinster, it is stated 

CHAP, i.] Habitations and Fortresses. 269 

that the tribute which was paid to Enna out of 
Hunster, was " an uinge of gold from every lios." 

In many cases, too, we find the building of 
raths or lisses recorded. Thus in the passage 
quoted from the Book of Leinster (p. 90, supra], 
queen Maev sentences the five sons of Dihorba to 
"raise a rath" around her, which should be "the 
chief city of Ulster for ever." In the "Battle 
of Moylena" (p. 2) it is stated that Nuadhat, the 
foster father of Owen More (see p. 134, supra], 
"raised a kingly rath on Magh Feimhin." In 
the Book of Armagh, and in several of the ancient 
Lives of St. Patrick, it is stated that on a certain 
occasion, the saint heard the voices of workmen 
who were building a rath; and Jocelin, in rela- 
ting the same circumstance, says the work in 
which they were engaged was " Rayth, i. e. murus" 

The houses in which the families lived were 
built within the enclosed area, timber being, no 
doubt, the material employed, in accordance with 
the well-known custom of the ancient Irish ; and 
the circumvallations of the rath served both for a 
shelter and a defence. I might adduce many 
passages to prove this, but I will content myself 
with two one from the MS. Harl. 5,280, Brit. 
Mus., quoted by O'Curry (Lect., p. 618) : " They 
then went forward until they entered a beautiful 
plain. And they saw a kingly rath, and a golden 
tree at its door ; and they saw a splendid house in 
it, under a roof -tree of findruine ; thirty feet was 
its length." And the other from the tale of "The 
fate of the Children of TJsnagh " (Atlantis, No. 
VI.), in which we find it stated that as Deirdre's 
mother "was passing over the floor of the house, 
the infant shrieked in her womb, so that it was 
heard all over the Us." 

The circular form was not discontinued at the 

270 Artificial Structure*. [PART in. 

introduction of Christianity. The churches in- 
deed were universally quadrangular, but this form 
was adopted only very slowly in the strongholds 
and dwellings of the chiefs and people. Even in 
ecclesiastical architecture the native form to some 
extent prevailed, for it seems evident that the 
shape of the round towers was suggested by that 
of the old fortresses of the country. Circular 
duns and raths, after the ancient pagan fashion, 
continued to be erected down to the twelfth or 
thirteenth century. Tt is recorded in the "Wars 
of GGK," that Brian Borumha fortified or erected 
certain duns, fastnesses, and islands (i. e. iran- 
noges), which are enumerated ; and the remains 
of several of these are still to be seen, differing 
in no respect from the more ancient forts. 
Donagh Cairbreach O'Brien, the sixth in descent 
from Brian Borumha, erected, according to the 
" Cathreim Thoirdhealbhaigh " (compiled in 1459 
by John M'Grath), " a princely palace of a 
circular form at Clonroad" (near Ennis) ; and 
the same authority states that Conchobhair na 
Siudaine, the son of Donagh, built at the same 
place a longphort of earth, as a residence for 

It is highly probable that originally the words 
lios, rath, dun, &c., were applied to different kinds 
of structures : but however that may be, they are 
at present, and have been for a long time, espe- 
cially the two first, confounded one with another, 
so that it seems impossible to make a distinction. 
The duns indeed, as I shall explain further on, 
are usually pretty well distinguished from the 
lisses and raths; but we often find, even in old 
authorities, two of these terms, and sometimes the 
whole three, applied to the very same edifices. 

In the following passage, for instance, from the 

CHAP. I.] Habitations and Fortresses. 271 

annotations of Tirechan, in the Book of Armagh, 
the terms lios and dun appear to be applied synony- 
mously : " Cummen and Breathan purchased 
Ochter-nAchid (upper field, supposed tobeOughter- 
agh, a parish in the county Leitrim), with its 
appurtenances, both wood, and plain, and meadow, 
together with its /i'wsand its garden. Half of this 
wood, and house and dun, was mortmain to Cum- 
men" (Petrie R. Towers, p. 218). And some 
other terms also are used in the same manner ; as 
for example, in case of the great enclosure at 
Tara, which is known by the two names, Eath- 
na-riogh, and Cathair-Crofain. 

In another passage* from the Book of Bally- 
mote, the word rath is used to denote the circular 
entrenchment, and les the space enclosed by the 
raths, while the whole quotation affords another 
proof that houses were built on the interior: (a 
person who was making his way to wan! s the 
palace) "leaped with that shaft over the three 
r aths, until he was on the floor of the les ; and 
from that until he was on the floor of the king- 

Lios. The words lios [lis] and rath were applied 
to the circular mound or entrenchment, generally 
of earth, thrown up both as a fortification and a 
shelter round the level space on which the houses 
were erected; and accordingly they are often 
translated atrium by Latin writers. But though 
this is the usual application of these terms, both 
and especially rath were, and are, not unf re- 
quently applied to the great high entrenched 
mounds which are commonly designated by the 

* Quoted by Mr. J. O'Beirne Crowe, in an article in the 
Journal of Hist, and Arch. Assoc. of Ireland, January, J869, 
p. 223. 

272 Artificial Structures. [PART in 

word dun. These forts are still very numerous 
through the country, and they are called lisses and 
roths to the present day. Their great numbers, 
and the very general application of the terms may 
be judged of from the fact that there are aboui 
1,400 townlands and villages dispersed through all 
parts of Ireland, whose names begin with the 
word Lis alone ; and of course this is only a very 
small fraction of all the lisses in Ireland. 

The name of Lismore in Waterford affords a 
good illustration of the application of this word ; 
and its history shows that the early saints some- 
times surrounded their habitations with circular 
lisses, after the fashion of their pagan ancestors. 
In the Life of St. Carthach, the founder, published 
by the Bollandists at the 14th of May, we are told 
that when the saint and his followers, after his 
expulsion from Rahan, arrived at this place, which 
had previously been called Maghsciath (Ma-skee), 
the plain of the shield, they began to erect a 
circular entrenchment. Then a certain virgin, 
who had a cell in the same field, came up and 
inquired what they were doing ; and St. Carthach 
answered her that they were preparing to construct 
a little enclosure or Its around their goods for the 
service of God. And the holy virgin said, " It 
will not be little, but great." " The holy father, 
Mochuda (i. e. Carthach) answered ' Truly it will 
be as thou sayest, thou handmaid of Christ ; for 
from this name the place will be always called in 
Scotic, Liass-mor, or in Latin Atrium-magnum,' " 
i. e. great lis or enclosure. There are altogether 
eleven places in Ireland called by this name Lis- 
more ; all with the same meaning. 

Many local names are formed by the union of 
the term lios with a personal name ; the individual 
commemorated being either the builder of the lia. 

CHAP, i.] Habitations ana foriresses. 273 

or one of its subsequent possessors. Listowel in 
Kerry is called by the Four Masters, Lios-Tuathail, 
Tuathal's or Thoohal's fort ; Liscarroll in Cork, 
Carroll's or Cearbhall's ; Liscahane in the parish of 
Ardf ert, Kerry, called in the Annals, Lios- Cathain, 
Cathan's or Kane's Us. The parish of Lissonuffy in 
Roscommon, took its name from an old church 
built by the O'Duffy s within the enclosure of a fort ; 
it is called by the Four Masters Lios-0-nDubh- 
thaigh, the fort of the O'Duffys, the pronunciation 
of which is exactly preserved in the present name. 

Or if not by name, we have a person commemo- 
rated in some other way; as, for instance, in 
Lisalbanagh in Londonderry, the Scotchman's Us; 
Lisataggart in Cavan, of the priest ; Lisnabantry in 
the same county, the Its of the widow (Lios-na- bain- 
treabhaighe, pron. Lisnabointry) ; Lissadill in the 
parish of Drumcliff, Sligo, which the Four Masters 
write Lios-an-doitt, the fort of the blind man, the 
same name as Lissadoill in Galway ; Lissanearla 
near Tralee, the earl's fort. 

The old form of this word is les, genitive Us ; 
but in the modern language a corrupt genitive 
leasa [lassa] is often found. All these are pre- 
served in modern names ; and the word is not much 
subject to change in the process of anglicisation. 
Different forms of the genitive are seen in the 
following : Drumlish, the ridge of the fort, the 
name of a village in Longford, and of some town* 
lands in the northern counties ; Moyliss, Moylish, 
and Moylisha (Moy, a plain) ; Gortalassa, the field 
of the Us; Knockalassa (hill) ; Ballinlass, Ballinliss, 
Ballinlassa, and Ballinlassy, the town of the fort ; 
all widely- spread townland names. 

The two diminutives liosdn and lisin [lissaun, 
lisheen] , little fort, are very common. The latter 
is usually made Lisheen, which is the name of 
VOL. i. 19 

274 Artificial Structure*. ^ART in. 

twenty townlands, and helps to form many others. 
It assumes a different form in Lissen or Lissen 
Hall, the name of a place near Swords in Dublin, 
and of another in the parish of Kilmore, Tipperary. 
Liosdn appears in Lissan and Lissane, which are 
the names of several townlands and parishes. The 
Irish plural appears in Lessanny (little forts) in 
Mayo; and the English in Lessans, near Saintfield 
in Down. It occurs in combination in Mellison 
in Tipperary, which is called in Irish, Magh-liosain, 
the plain of the little Us, and in Bally lesson in 
Down and Antrim, the town of the little fort. 

With the adjective dur prefixed, signifying 
" strong," the compound durlas is formed, which 
means, according to O'Donovan, strong fort (Sup. 
to O'Reilly's Diet, in voce). Several great forts 
in different parts of the country are called by this 
name, one of the finest of which is situated in the 
parish of Kilruan, Tipperary ; it is surrounded by 
three great entrenchments, and contains within it 
the ruins of a small ancient church. It is now called 
Rath-durlais in Irish, and gives name to the town- 
land of Rathurles. Several places derive their 
names from this word durlas, the best known of 
which is the town of Thurles in Tipperary, which 
was often called Durlas- O'Fogarty, from its situa- 
tion in O'Fogarty's country; but whether the fort 
remains or not, I cannot tell. Durless, another 
form, is the name of a townland in Mayo, and of 
two others in Tyrone. 

Rath. This term has been explained in con- 
junction with lios, at page 271 ; in the Book of 
Armagh, rath is translated fossa. In a great 
number of cases this word is preserved in the 
anglicised names exactly as it is spelled in Irish, 
namely, in the form of rath, which forms or begins 
the names oi ab: m it 700 townlands. The townland 

CHAP, i.] Habitations and Fortresses. 275 

of Rathurd near Limerick, is now called in Irish 
Rath-tSuird, but by the annalists Rath-arda-Suird, 
the fort of the height of sord, whatever sord 
may mean. The Four Masters record the erection 
of this rath by one of Heber's chieftains, in A.M. 
3501 ; and its remains are still to be seen on the 
top of Rathurd hill, near the old castle. Rathnew 
in Wicklow, is called in Irish authorities Rath- 
Naoi, the latter part of which is a man's name, 
possibly the original possessor. Rathdrum, also 
in Wicklow, means the rath of the drum or long 
hill, and there are several other places of the same 
name in different parts of Ireland ; for raths were 
often built on the tops of low hills. 

Rathmore, great fort, is the name of forty town- 
lands in different counties. In many of these the 
forts still remain, as at Rathmore, four miles east 
of Naas in Kildare. The great fortification that 
gave the name to Rathmore near the town of 
Antrim, still exists, and is famous for its historical 
associations. It is the Rath-mor-Muighe-LinS {great 
rath of Moylinny) of our historians ; Tighernach 
notices it as existing in the second century ; and 
in the seventh it was the residence of the princes 
of Dalaradia. It was burned in the year 1315 by 
Edward Bruce, which shows that even then it was 
an important residence (Reeves, Eccl. Ant. p. 280). 
Magh-Line (plain of Line), from which this great 
fort took its name, was a district of the present 
county of Antrim, anciently very much celebrated, 
whose name is still retained by the townland of 
Moylinny near the town of Antrim. The old name 
is also partly retained by the parish of Ballylinny 
town of Line) lying a few miles eastward. 

Rath is in Irish pronounced raw, and in modern 
names it takes various phonetic forms, to correspond 
with this pronunciation, such as ra, rah, ray, &c. f 

276 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

which syllables, as representatives of rath, begin 
the names of about 400 townlands. Raheny near 
Dublin is called by the annalists Rath-Enna, the 
fort of Enna, a man's name formerly common in 
Ireland ; the circumvallations of the old fort are 
still distinctly traceable round the Protestant 
church, which was built on its site. The village 
of Ardara in Donegal, takes its name from a con- 
spicuous rath oh a hill near it, to which the name 
properly belongs, in Irish Ard-a' -raith, the height 
of the rath. Drumragh, ,a parish in Tyrone, 
containing the town of Omagh, is called in the 
Inquisitions, Dromrathe, pointing to the Irish 
Druim-ratha, the ridge or hill of the rath. The 
word occurs singly as Raigh in Galway and Mayo ; 
Raw, with the plural Raws, in several of the 
Ulster counties ; and Ray in Donegal and Cavan. 

Other modern modifications and compounds are 
exhibited in the following names : Belra in Sligq 
Belragh near Carnteel in Tyrone, and Belraugh 
in Londonderry, all meaning the mouth or en- 
trance of the fort ; Corray, in the parish of Kil- 
macteige, Sligo, Cor-raith, the round hill of the 
rath. Roemore in the parish of Breaghwy, Mayo, 
is called Rahemore in an Inquisition of James I., 
which shows it to be a corruption of Rathmore, 
great fort ; and there is another Roemore in the 
parish of Kilmeena, same county. Raharney in 
Westmeath preserves an Irish personal name of 
great antiquity, the full name \>emgJRath-Athairne, 
Atharny's fort. 

The diminutive Raheen (little fort), and its 
plural Raheens, are the names of about eighty 
townlands, and form part of many others. There 
are six townlands called Raheenroe, little red 
rath : the little fort which gave name to Raheenroe 
near Ballyorgan in the south of Limerick, has 
been levelled within my own memory. 

CHAP, i.] Habitations and Fortresses. 277 

Dun. The primary meaning of the word dun is 
" strong " or "firm," and it is so interpreted in 
Zeuss, page 30 : " Dun, firmus, fortis." In this 
sense it forms a part of the old name of Dunluce 
castle, near the Giant's Causeway Dunlios as it 
is called in all Irish authorities. Dunlios signifies 
strong Us or fort the word is used by Keating, 
for instance, in this sense (see Four M., V. 
1324f) and this name shows that the rock on 
which the castle ruins stand was in olden times 
occupied by a fortified Us. It has the same signi- 
fication in Dunchladh [Dunclaw], i. e. fortified 
mound or dyke, the name of the ancient boundary 
rampart between Brefny and Annaly, extending 
from Lough Gowna to Lough Kinclare in Long- 
ford ; a considerable part of this ancient entrench- 
ment is still to be seen near Granard, and it is 
now well known by the anglicised name of 

As a verb, the word dun is used in the sense of 
" to close," which is obviously derived from its 
adjectival signification ; and this usage is exem- 
plified in Corragunt, the name of a place in Fer- 
managh, near Clones, which is a corruption from 
the Irish name, Corradhunta (change of dh to g, 
page 56), i. e. closed or shut up corra or weir. 

Dun, as a noun, signifies a citadel, a fortified 
royal residence ; in the Zeuss MSS. it glosses arx 
and castrum ; Adamnan translates it munitio ; and 
it is rendered "pallace"by Mageoghegan in his 
translation of the Annals of Clonmacnoise: "He 
builded seven downes or pallaces for himself." It 
is found in the Teutonic as well as in the Keltic 
languages Welsh, din; Anglo-Saxon, tun; old 
high German, zun. It is represented in English 
by the word town ; and it is the same as the ter- 
mination dunum, so common in the old Latinised 

278 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

names of many of the cities of Great Britain and 
the Continent. 

This word was anciently, and is still, frequently 
applied to the great forts, with a high central 
mound, flat at top, and surrounded by several 
very usually three earthen circumvallations. 
These fortified duns, so many of which remain all 
over the country, were the residences of the 
kings and chiefs ; and they are constantly men- 
tioned as such in the Irish authorities. Thus we 
read in the Feast of Dun-na-ngedh (Battle of 
Maghrath, p. 7), that Domhnall, son of Aedh, king 
of Ireland from A.D. 624 to 639, " first selected 
Dun-na-ngedh, on the banks of the Boyne, to be 
his habitation, .... and he formed seven very 
great ramparts around this dun, after the model of 
the houses of Tara." And other passages to the 
same effect are cited at page 268 et seq. 

In modern names, dun generally assumes the 
forms dun, doon, or don ; and these syllables form 
the beginnings of the names of more than 600 
townlands, towns, and parishes. 

There are twenty-seven different places called 
Doon ; one of them is the village and parish of 
Doon in Limerick, where was situated the church 
of St. Fintan; the fort from which the place 
received the name, still remains, and was anciently 
called Dunblesque. Dunamon, now a parish in 
Galway, was so-called from a castle of the same 
name on the Suck ; but the name, which the 
annalists write Dun-Iomgain, Imgan's fort, was 
anciently applied to a dun, which is still in part, 
preserved. Dundonnell, i. e. DonalTs or Domh- 
nall' s fortress, is the name of a townland in 
Roscommon, and of another in Westmeath ; and 
Doondonnell is a parish in Limerick; in Down 
it is modified, under Scottish influence, to Dun- 

CHAP. i.J Habitations and Fortresses. 279 

donald, which is the name of a parish, so called 
from a fort that stands not far from the church. 

The name of Dundalk was originally applied, 
not to the town, but to the great fortress now 
called the moat of Castletown, a mile inland ; 
there can be no doubt that this is the Dun-Dealgan 
of the ancient histories and romances, the resi- 
dence of Cuchullin, chief of the Red Branch 
Knights in the first century. In some of the tales 
of the Leabhar na hTJidhre, it is called Dun-Deka, 
but in later authorities, Dun-Dealgan, i. e. Delga's 
fort ; and according to O'Curry, it received its 
name from Delga, a Firbolg chief who built it. 
The same personal name appears in Kildalkey 
in Meath, which in one of the Irish charters in 
the Book of Kells, is written Citt-Delga, Delga's 

There is a townland near Lisburn, now called 
Duneight, but written Downeagh in an Inquisition 
of James I., which has been identified by Dr. 
Reeves with the place called in the " Circuit of 
Ireland " Dun-Eachdhach, Eochy's fortress : where 
the great king Muircheartach of the leather cloaks, 
slept a night with his men, when performing his 
circuit of the country in the year 941. There 
is a parish in Antrim, and also a townland, 
called Dunaghy, which is the same name more 
correctly anglicised. 

The celebrated rock of Dunamase in Queen's 
County is now covered by the ruins of the O'Mores' 
castle, but it must have been previously occupied 
by a dun or caher. In an Inquisition of Richard 
II., it is called Donemaske, which is a near ap- 
proach to its Irish name as we find it in the 
Annals, viz., Dun-Masg, the fortress of Masg, whc 
was grandson of Sedna Sithbhaic (Sedna-Shee 
vick), one of the ancestors of the Leinster people 

280 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

A great number of these duns, as will be seen 
from the preceding, have taken their names from 
persons, either the original founders or subsequent 
possessors. But various other circumstances, in 
connection with these structures, were seized upon 
to form names. Doneraile in Cork, is called in 
the Book of Lismore, Dun-air-aill, the fortress on 
the cliff, but whether the dun is still there I 
cannot tell. There is a parish in Waterford 
whose name has nearly the same signification, 
viz., Dunhill; it is called in Grace's Annals 
Donnoil, which very well represents the Irish 
Dun-aill, the fortress of the cliff. It is understood 
to have taken its name from a rock on which a 
castle now stands ; but a dun evidently preceded 
the castle, and was really the origin of the name. 
Doonally in the parish of Calry, Sligo (an ancient 
residence of the O'Donnells), which the Four 
Masters write Dun-aille, and which is also the 
name of several townlands in Sligo and Galway, 
is the same name, but more correctly rendered. 

Of similar origin to these is Dundrum in Down, 
which the Four Masters mention by the name 
of Dundroma, the fort on the ridge or long hill ; 
the original fort has however disappeared, and 
its site is occupied by the well-known castle ruins. 
There are several other places called Dundrum, all 
of which take their name from a fort on a ridge ; 
the ancient fort of Dundrum, near Dublin, was 
most probably situated on the height where the 
church of Taney now stands. 

Although the word dun is not much liable to be 
disguised by modern corruption, yet in some cases 
it assumes forms different from those I have 
mentioned. The town of Downpatrick takes its 
name from the large entrenched dun which lies 
near the Cathedral. In the first century this 

CHAP. 1^] Habitations and Fortresses. 281 

fortress was the residence of a warrior of the Red 
Branch Knights, called Celtchair, or Keltar of the 
battles ; and from him it is variously called in 
Irish authorities Dunkeltar, Rathkettar, and Aras- 
keltar (aras, a habitation). By ecclesiastical 
writers it is commonly called Dun-leth-glas, or 
Dun-da-leth- glas ; this last name is translated, the 
dun of the two broken locks or fetters (glas, a 
fetter), which Jocelin accounts for by a legend 
that the two sons of Dichu (see p. 113), having been 
confined as hostages by king Leaghaire, were re- 
moved from the place of their confinement, and the 
two fetters by which they were bound were broken 
by miraculous agency. "Afterwards, for brevity's 
sake, the latter part of this long name was dropped, 
and the simple word Dun retained, which has past 
into the Latin Dunum, and into the English 
Down " (Reeves Eccl. Ant., p. 143). The name 
of St. Patrick was added, as a kind of distinctive 
term, and as commemorative of his connection 
with the place 

Down is the name of several places in King's 
County and Westmeath ; and the plural Downs 
(i. e. forts) is still more common. The name of 
the Glen of the Downs in Wicklow, is probably 
a translation of the Irish Gleann-na-ndun, the 
glen of the duns or forts. Downamona in the 
parish of Kilmore, Tipperary, signifies the fort 
of the bog. 

Dooneen, little fort, and the plural Dooneens, are 
the names of nearly thirty townlands in the south 
adn west ; they are often made Downing and 
Downings in Cork, Carlow, Wicklow, and Kil- 
dare ; and Downeen occurs once near Ross Carbery 
in Cork. 

The diminutive in an is not so common, but it 
gives name to some places, such as Doonan, three 

282 Artificial Structures. [PART m. 

townlands in Antrim, Donegal, and Fermanagh ; 
Doonane in Queen's County and Tipperary : and 
Doonans (little forts) in the parish of Annoy, 

There are innumerable names all over the 
country, containing this word as a termination. 
There is a small island, and also a townland, near 
Dungarvan, called Shandon, in Irish Seandun, 
old fort ; and there is little doubt that the fortress 
was situated on the island. This name is better 
known, however, as that of a church in Cork, 
celebrated in Father Prout's melodious chanson : 

"The bells of Shandon, 
That sound so grand on 
The pleasant waters of the river Lee." 

The name reminds us of the time when the hill* 
now teeming with city life under the shadow of 
the church, was crowned by the ancient for- 
tress, which looked down on St. Finbar's infant 
colony, in the valley beneath. Shannon in Done- 
gal, near Lifford, is from the same original, 
having the d aspirated, for it is written Shandon in 
some old English documents ; and Shannon in the 
parish of Calry, Sligo, is no doubt similarly derived. 
We sometimes find two of the terms, lios, rath, 
and dun, combined in one name ; and in this case, 
either the first is used adjectively, like dun in 
Dunluce (p. 277), or it is a mere explanatory 
term, used synonymously with the second. Or 
such a name might originate in successive struc- 
tures, like the old name of Caher in Tipperary, 
for which see p. 284, infra. Of the union of two 
terms, we have a good illustration in Lisdoon- 
varna in the north-west of Clare, well known for 
its spa, which takes its name from a large fort on 
the right of the road as you go from Ballyvaghan 

CHAP, i.j Habitations and Fortresses, 283 

to Ennistymon. The proper name of this is 
Doonvarna (Dun-bhearnach), gapped fort, from 
its shape ; and the word Lis was added as a 
generic term, somewhat in the same manner as 
"river," in the expression "the river Liffey ;" 
Lisdoonvarna, i. e. the Us (of) Doonvarna. In 
this way came also the name of Lisdown in 
Armagh, and Lisdoonan in Down and Monaghan. 
The word bearnach, gapped, is not ^infrequently 
applied to a fort, referring, not to its original 
form, but to its dilapidated appearance, when the 
clay had been removed by the peasantry, so as to 
leave breaches or gaps in the circumvallations. 
Hence the origin of such names as Rathbarna in 
Roscommon, and Caherbarnagh in Clare, Cork, 
and Kerry. 

One of the most obvious means of fortifying a 
fort was to flood the external ditch, when the con- 
struction admitted it, and the water was at hand ; 
and whoever is accustomed to examine these 
ancient structures, must be convinced that this 
plan was often adopted. In many cases the old 
channel may be traced, leading from an adjacent 
stream or spring ; and not unf requently the water 
still remains in its place in the fosse. 

The names themselves often prove the adoptior 
of this mode of defence, or rather the existence 
of the water in its original position, long aftei 
the fort had been abandoned. There are twenty- 
eight townlands called Lissaniska and Lissanisky, 
chiefly in the southern half of Ireland Lios-an- 
uisge, the fort of the water. None of these are 
in Ulster, but the same name occurs as Lisanisk 
in Monaghan, Lisanisky in Cavan, and Lisnisk 
and Lisnisky in Antrim, Down, and Armagh. 
With the same signification we find Rathaniska, 
the name of a place in Westmeath ; Raheenaniska 

284 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

and Raheenanisky in Queen's County ; Rahaniska 
and Rahanisky in Clare, Tipperary, and Cork; 
and in the last-mentioned county there is a parish 
called Dunisky or Doonisky. 

Long after the lisses and raths had been aban- 
doned as dwellings, many of them were turned to 
different uses ; and we see some of the high duns 
and mounds crowned with modern buildings, such 
as those at Drogheda, Naas, and Castletown near 
Dundalk. The peasantry have always felt the 
greatest reluctance to putting them under tillage ; 
and in every part of Ireland, you will hear stories 
of the calamities that bafell the families or the 
cattle of the foolhardy farmers, who outraged the 
fairies' dwellings, by removing the earth or tilling 
the enclosure. 

They were, however, often used as pens for 
cattle, for which some of them are admirably 
adapted ; and we have, consequently, many such 
names as Lisnageeragh, Rathnageeragh, and 
Rakeeragh, the fort of the sheep ; Lisnagree and 
Lisnagry [Lios-na-ngroidh] , of the cattle ; Lisna- 
gowan, the Us of the calves, &c. 

Cathair. This word, which is pronounced caher 
appears to have been originally applied to a city, 
for the old form cathir glosses civitas in the Wb. MS. 
of Zeuss. It has been, however, from a very 
early period perhaps from the beginning used 
to designate a circular stone fort ; it is applied to 
both in the present spoken language. 

These ancient buildings are still very common 
throughout the country, especially in the south 
and west, where the term was in most general 
use ; and they have given names to great numbers 
of places. In modern nomenclature the word 
usually takes one of the two forms, caher and 
eahir ; and there are more than 300 townlands 

CHAP, i.] Habitations and Fortresses. 285 

and towns whose names begin with one or the 
other of these two words, all in Munster and 
Connaught, except three or four in Leinster 
none in Ulster. 

Caher itself is the name of more than thirty 
townlands, in several of which the original 
structures are still standing. The stone fort that 
gave name to Caher in Tipperary, was situated on 
the rocky island now occupied by the castle, which 
has of course obliterated every vestige of the 
previous edifice. Its full name, as used by the 
Four Masters and other authorities, was Cathair- 
duna-iascaigh [eesky], the circular stone fortress 
of the fish-abounding dun, and this name is still 
used by the Irish-speaking people ; from which it 
is obvious, " that an earthen dun had originally 
occupied the site on which a caher or stone fort 
was erected subsequently " (Petrie, " Irish Penny 
Journal," p. 257). I think it equally evident 
that before the erection of the caher its name way 
Duniascaigh [Duneesky], the fish-abounding dun, 
and indeed the Four Masters once (at 1581) give 
it this appellation. Dr. Petrie goes on to say : 
"The Book of Lecan records the destruction of 
the caher by Cuirreach, the brother-in-law of 
Felimy the Lawgiver, as early as the third century, 
at which time it is stated to have been the resi- 
dence of a female named Badamar." 

Cahersiveen in Kerry retains the correct pro- 
nunciation of the Irish name, Cathair-Saidhbhin, 
the stone fort of Saidhbhm, or Sabina. Saidhbhiit 
is a diminutive of Sadhbh [Sauv], a woman's name 
formerly in very general use, which in latter 
times has been commonly changed to Sarah. 
Caherconlish in Limerick must have received its 
name, like Caher in Tipperary, from the erection 
of a stone fort near an older earthen ooe ; its 

286 Artificial Stnictures. [PART in. 

Irish name being Cathair-chinn-lis (Annals of In- 
nisf alien), the caher at the head of the lis. The 
ruins of the original stone fort that gave name to 
Cahermurphy in the parish of KQmihil, Clare, 
still remain : the Four Masters call it Cathair- 
Murchadha, Murrough's caher. The whitish colour 
of the stones has given the name of Cahergal 
( Cathair-geal, white caher} to many of these forts 
from which again eleven townlands in Cork, 
Waterford, Galway, and Mayo, have derived 
their names. 

Cahereen, little caher, is the name of a place 
near Castleisland in Kerry. The genitive of 
cathair is catharach [caheragh], and this forms 
the latter part of a number of names ; for exam- 
ple, there is a place near Dunmanway, and an- 
other near Kenmare, called Derrynacaheragh the 
oak-wood of the stone fort. 

Caiseal. Cormac Mac Cullenan, in his glossary, 
conjectures that the name of Cashel in Tipperary, 
is derived from Cis-ail, i. e. tribute-rent ; the 
same derivation is given in the Book of Rights ; 
while O'Clery and other Irish authorities propose 
Cios-ail, rent-rock the rock on which the kings 
of Munster received their rents ; for Cashel was 
once the capital city of Munster, and the chief 
residence of its kings. There can be no doubt 
that all this is mere fancy, for the word caiseal is 
very common in Irish, and is always used to 
signify a circular stone fort ; it is a simple word, 
and either cognate with, or, as Ebel asserts, 
derived from the Latin castellum ; and it is found 
in the most ancient Irish MSS., such as those of 
Zeuss, Cormac' s Glossary, &c. 

Moreover, in the modern form, Cashel, it is the 
name of about fifty townlands, and begins the 
names of about fifty others, every one of which 

CHAP, i.] Habitations and Fortresses. 28? 

was so called from one of these ancient stone 
forts ; and there is no reason why Cashel in Tip- 
perary should be different from the others. As a 
further proof that this is its real signification, it 
is translated maceria in a charter of A. D. 1004, 
which is entered in the Book of Armagh (Reeves's 
Adamnan, p. 75). About the beginning of the 
fifth century, Core, king of Munster, took pos- 
session of Cashel, and there can be but little 
doubt that he erected a stone fort on the rock 
now so well known for its ecclesiastical ruins, for 
we are told that he changed its name from sidh- 
dhruim [Sheedrum : fairy ridge] to Caiseal. The 
cashels belong to the same class as cahers, raths, 
&c., and like them are of pagan origin ; but the 
name was very often adopted in Christian times to 
denote the wall with which the early saints sur- 
rounded their establishments. 

Cashels, and places named from them, are 
scattered over the four provinces, but they pre- 
ponderate in the western and north-western 
counties. Cashelfean in Cork and Donegal, and 
Cashelnavean near Stranorlar in the latter county, 
both signify the stone fort of the Fianna or ancient 
Irish militia (see p. 91); Cashelfinoge near Boyle 
in Roscommon, the fort of the scald crows. Some- 
times this word is corrupted to castle, as we find 
in Bally castle in Mayo, the correct name of which 
would be Ballycashel, for it is called in Irish, 
Baile-an-chaisil, the town of the cashel; but the 
name of Ballycastle in Antrim is correct, for it was 
so called, not from a cashel, but from a castle. 
Castledargan in the parish of Kilross, Sligo, is simi- 
larly corrupted, for the Four Masters call it Caiseal- 
Locha- Dear gain, the stone fort of Lough Dargan. 

Brugh and Bruighean. Brugh [bru] signifies a 
palace or distinguished residence. This term was 

288 Artificial Structures. [PART m 

applied to many of the royal residences of Ireland ; 
and several of the places that have preserved the 
word in their names have also preserved the 
old brughs or raths themselves. Bruree on the 
river Maigue in Limerick, is a most characteristic 
example. Its proper name, as it is found in many 
Irish authorities, is Brugh-righ, the fort or palace 
of the king ; for it was the principal seat of Oilioll 
Olum, king of Munster in the second century 
(see p. 134), and afterwards of the O'Donovans, 
chiefs of Hy Carbery, i. e. of the level country 
round Bruree and Kilmallock. In the Book of 
Rights, it is mentioned first in the list of the 
king of Cashel's seats, and there are still remain- 
ing extensive earthen forts, the ruins of the 
ancient brugh or palace of Oilioll Olum and his 
successors. According to an ancient MS. quoted 
by O'Curry (Battle of Moylena, p. 72), the most 
ancient name of this place was Dun- Cobhthaigh or 
Duncoffy, Coff agh's dun ; which proves that it was 
a fortified residence before its occupation by Oilioll 

The present name of Sniff in Limerick, is a 
corruption of Brugh (see p. 54). It is now called 
in Irish Brubh-na-leise, in which both terms are 
corrupted, the correct name being Brugh-na-Deise 
[Bruna-daishe], i. e. the brugh or mansion of the 
ancient territory of .Dm-beg ; and from the first 
part, Brubh [bruv], the modern form Bruff is 
derived. The brugh that gave name to this place 
still exists ; it is an earthen fort near the town 
called at the present day by the people, Lism-d- 
Bhrogha, as in the old song, " Binn lisin aerach a 
Bhrogha," " The melodious airy little lis of Bruff." 
There is a place called Brufl in the parish of 
Aughamore, Mayo, which is also from the same 
word brugh. 

CHAP, i.] Habitations and Fortresses. 289 

In some parts of the country they use the form 
brughas [bruas], which has originated the names 
of Bruis, now a parish in Tipperary ; Bruce, two 
townlands in Wexford ; and Bruse, two others in 
Cavan. There is also a derivative brughachas 
[brughas], which, as well as brugh itself, is used 
in several places to denote a farm-house, and the 
former is pretty common in this sense, in some of 
the Ulster counties. We derive from it Brughas, 
the name of a townland in Armagh, and of 
another in Fermanagh ; and Drumbrughas, the 
ridge of the farm-house, a name of frequent 
occurrence in Cavan and Fermanagh. (For the 
termination s, see 2nd Vol., Chap. 1.) 

The diminutive bruighean [breean] signifying 
also a royal mansion, or great house, is even more 
common than its original. Both brugh and 
bruighean were often used to signify a house of 
public hospitality, whence the term brugh aidh 
[broo-ey], the keeper of such a house a farmer. 
There was a celebrated house of this kind on the 
river Dodder, two miles south of Tallaght in 
Dublin, called Bruighean- Da-Derga, from Da- 
Derga, its owner. This mansion was destroyed by 
a band of pirates, about the time of the Christian 
era, and they also slew the monarch, Conary- 
more, who was enjoying the hospitality of Da- 
Derga. Its destruction, and the death of the 
monarch, are mentioned in our oldest authorities, 
such as the Leabhar na hUidhre, &c. ; no re- 
mains of the old fort can now be discovered, but 
it has left its name on the townland of Boherna- 
breena, which is the phonetic representative of 
Bothar-na Bruighne, the road of the bruighean or 

Another mansion of the same kind, equally 
renowned, was Bruighean-Da-Choga, which wa^ 
VOL. i. 20 

290 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

situated in the present county Westmeath. This 
was stormed and destroyed in the first century, 
and Cormac Conloingeas, son of Conor mac Nessa 
(see p. 126), who had stopped there to rest on his 
journey from Connaught to Ulster, was slain. The 
ancient Ballybetagh attached to this house is now 
subdivided into four townlands, situated in the 
parish of Drumrany, two of them called Bryan- 
more, and two Bryanbeg ; in which Bryan repre- 
sents the present pronunciation of Bruighean. The 
old mansion itself still remains, and is situated in 
Bryanmore Upper ; it is a fort about 200 feet in 
diameter, containing within its circle the ruins of 
an Anglo-Norman castle ; and it was formerly 
surrounded by a circle of upright stones. 

In more recent times, the word bruighean has 
been always used by the people to denote a fairy 
palace for the old forts were believed to be in- 
habited by the fairies ; and in this sense it is 
generally understood in its application to local 
names. The form bryan is found in some other 
names besides those in Westmeath ; such as Bryan 
( -beg and -more), near Aughrim in Roscommon. 
Breen, which well represents the original sound, 
is the name of three townlands in Antrim, Done- 
gal, and Tyrone ; and there is a place in Limerick, 
north of Kilfinane, and another near Emly in 
Tipperary, called Ballinvreena, the town of the 
fairy mansion. The double diminutive Breenaun 
occurs in the parish of Ross, Galway ; and we find 
Breenagh a place abounding in fairy mansions 
in the parish of Conwal, Donegal. The diminutive 
in 6g occurs once in Sligo, giving name to Breeoge, 
in the parish of Kilmacowen Bruigheog, little 
brugh or fort. 

Mota. The large high mounds are often called 
mota in Irish, the same as the English word 

CHAP. I.] Habitations and Fortresses. 291 

It is the opinion of the best Irish scholars, and 
among others, of O'Donovan, that it is not an 
original Irish word at all, for it is not found in 
any ancient authority ; it is very probably nothing 
more than the English word moat, or perhaps the 
Anglo-Saxon mote, borrowed, like many others, 
into Irish. 

We find a few names in the annals, formed from 
this word. The Four Masters mention Mount- 
garret, now a ruined castle on the Barrow, near 
New Ross, once a residence of the Butlers ; and 
they call it Mota-Gaired, Garret's moat, which 
shows that the place should have been called 
Moatgarret. Ballymote in Sligo also occurs in 
the Four Masters, in the Irish form Baile-an- 
mhota, the town of the moat. 

There are many townlands called Moat and 
Mota, which derive their names from this word, 
and in numerous cases the mounds are still pre- 
served. The great mound of Moate in "West- 
meath, forms a very conspicuous feature; it is 
called Moategranoge ; and '-.his name is derived, 
according to tradition, from Graine-og, young 
Grania or Grace, a Munster lady who married 
one of the O'Melaghlins. She is probably the 
person commemorated in the legend referred to by 
Caesar Otway; "a legend concerning a Milesian 
princess taking on herself the office of brehon. 
and from this moat adjudicating causes and de- 
livering her oral laws to the people" (Toiir in 
Connaught, p. 55). 

Orianan. The word grianan [greenan] is ex- 
plained by O'Donovan (App. to O'Reilly's Diet., 
in voce), 1, a beautiful sunny spot; 2, a bowei 
or summer-house ; 3, a balcony or gallery (on a 
house) ; 4, a royal palace. Its literal meaning if 
a sunny spot, for it is derived from grian, the sup 

292 Artificial Structure*. [PART in. 

and the Irish-Latin writers often translate it 
solarium, and terra Solaris. It is of frequent oc- 
currence in the most ancient Irish MSS., princi- 
pally in the second and fourth senses ; as for instance 
in Cormac's Glossary, where it is used as another 
name for "a palace on a hill." O'Brien explains 
it a royal seat, in which sense it is used by the 
best Irish writers ; and this is unquestionably its 
general meaning, when it occurs in topographical 
names. The most common English forms of the 
word are Greenan, Greenane, Greenaun, and Gre- 
nan, which are the names of about forty-five 
townlands distributed all over the four provinces. 

The grianans are generally the same kind of 
structures as the cahers, brughs, &c., already ex- 
plained ; and many of them still remain in the 
places whose names contain the word. The most 
celebrated palace of the name in Ireland was 
Greenan-Ely, of which I will speak under Aileach. 
Grenanstown in Tipperary, five miles from Ne- 
nagh, has got its present name by translation 
from Baile-an-ghrianain, the town of the palace ; 
the grianan is evidently the great fort now called 
Lisrathdine, which appears to have been an im- 
portant place, as it is very large, and has three 
circumvallations. The name of the fort has been 
formed like that of Lisdoonvarna (p. 282) ; Lis- 
rathdine, i. e. the fort of E-athdine, this last sig- 
nifying deep rath (Rath-doimhin) in allusion to 
the depth of the fosses. Clogrennan castle, the 
ruins of which are situated on the Barrow, three 
miles below Carlow, must have been built on the 
site of a more ancient residence, as the name 
sufficiently attests Cloch-grianain, the stone castlo 
of the grianan. 

It will be perceived that grianan is a diminu- 
tive from grian; the other diminutive in 6g 

CHAP, i.] Habitations and Fortresses, 293 

sometimes occurs also, and is understood to mean 
a sunny little hill. We find Greenoge, a village 
and parish in Meath ; and this is also the name of 
a townland near Rathcoole, Dublin, and of another 
near Dromore in Down (see, for these diminu- 
tives, 2ndYol., Chap. 11.). 

Aileaeh. The circular stone fortresses already 
described under the words cathair and caiseal, 
were often called by the name aileach [ellagh], a 
word which signifies literally a stone house or 
stone fort, being derived from ail, a stone. Michael 
O'Clery, in his Glossary of ancient Irish words, 
gives this meaning and derivation: "Aileach or 
ntltheach, i. e. a name for a habitation, which 
(name) was given from stones " (see 2nd Vol., 
Chap. i.). 

Aileach is well known to readers of Irish history 
as the name of the palace of the Northern Hy 
Neill kings, which is celebrated in the most an- 
cient Irish writing under various names, such as 
Aileach Neid, Aileach Frighrinn, &c. The ruins of 
this great fortress, which is situated on a hill, 
four miles north-west from Derry, have been 
elaborately described in 'the Ordnance memoir of 
the parish of Templemore ; they consist of a 
circular cashel of cyclopean masonry, crowning the 
summit of the hill, surrounded by three concentric 
ramparts. It still retains its old name, being 
called Greenan-Ely, i. e. the palace of Aileach, for 
Ely represents the pronunciation of Ailigh, the 
genitive of Aileach ; and it gives name to the two 
adjacent townlands of Elaghmore and Elaghbeg. 

Elagh is also the name of two townlands in 
Tyrone, and there are several places in Galway 
and Mayo called Ellagh, all derived from a stone 
fort. In Caherelly, the name of a parish in Li- 
uierick, there is a union of two synonymous terms, 

294 Artificial Structure*. PART in. 

the Irish name being Cathair-Ailigh, the caher of 
the stone fort. So also in Cahernally near the 
town of Headford in Galway, which is called 
Cathair-na-hailighi, the caher of the stone-fort, in 
an ancient document, quoted by Hardiman (lar C. 
371) ; and the old stone-built fortress still re- 
mains there. A stone fort must have existed on 
a ridge in Dromanallig, a townland near Inchigeel- 
agh in Cork ; and another on the promontory 
called Ardelly in Erris, which Mac Firbis, in 
" Hy Fiachrach," calls Ard-Ailigh. 

Teamhair. The name of Tara, like that of 
Cashel, has been the subject of much conjecture ; 
and our old etymologists have also in this instance 
committed the mistake of seeking to decompose 
what is in reality a simple term. The ancient 
name of Tara is Teamhair, and several of our old 
writers state that it was so called from Tea, the 
wife of Heremon, who was buried there : Teamh- 
air, i. e. the mur or wall of Tea, But this deri- 
vation is legendary, for Teamhair was, and is still, 
a common local name. 

Teamhair [Tawer] is a simple word, and has 
pretty much the same meaning as grianan (see p. 
291) ; it signifies an elevated spot commanding an 
extensive prospect, and in this sense it is fre- 
quently used as a generic term in Irish MSS. In 
Cormac's Glossary it is stated that the teamhair of 
a house is a grianan (i. e. balcony), and that the 
teamhair of a country is a hill commanding a wide 
view. This meaning applies to every teamhair in 
Ireland, for they are all conspicuously situated ; 
and the great Tara in Meath, is a most character- 
istic example. Moreover, it must be remembered 
that a teamhair was a residence, and that all the 
teamhairs had originally one or more forts, which 
in case of many of them remain to this day. 

CHAP. i.J Habitations and Fortresses. 295 

The genitive of teamhair is teamhrach [taragh 
or towragh], and it is this form which has given 
its present name to Tara in Meath, and to every 
other place whose name is similarly spelled (see p. 
33). By the old inhabitants, however, all these 
places are called in Irish Teamhair. Our histories 
tell us that when the Firbolgs came to Tara, they 
called the hill Dmim-caein [Druinkeen], beautiful 
ridge; and it was also called Liathdhruim [Lei- 
trim], grey ridge. There is a place called Tara 
in the parish of Witter, Down, which has a fine 
fort commanding an extensive view; another in 
the parish of Durrow, King's County ; and Tara 
is the name of a conspicuous hill near Grorey in 
Wexford, on the top of which there is a earn. 

There was a celebrated royal residence in Mun- 
ster, called Teamhair-Luachra, from the district 
of Sliabh Luachra or Slievelougher. Its exact 
situation is now unknown, though it is probable 
that the fort is still in existence; but it must 
have been somewhere near Ballahantouragh, a 
ford giving name to a townland near Castleisland 
in Kerry, which is called in Irish Bel-atha-an- 
Teamhrach, the ford-mouth of the Teamhair. A 
similar form of the name is found in Knockaun- 
touragh, a little hill near Kildorrery in Cork, o< 
the top of which is a fort the old Teamhair 
celebrated in the local legends ; and in the parish 
of Kiltoom in Roscommon, north-west of Athlone, 
there is a place called Ratawragh, the rath of the 
conspicuous residence. 

There are many other places deriving theii 
names from these teamhairs, and to understand the 
following selection, it must be remembered thai 
the word is pronounced tavver, tawer, and totver, ir 
different parts of the country. One form is found 
in Towerbeg and Towermore, two townlands in ttu 

296 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

parish of Devenish, Fermanagh. ; and there is a 
Towermore near Castlelyons in Cork. Taur, 
another modification, gives name to two hills 
(-more and -beg), in the parish of Clonfert, same 
county. Tawran, little Teamhair (Teamhrari), 
occurs in the parish of Killaraght, Sligo ; we find 
the same name in the slightly different form 
Tavraun, in the parish of Kilmovee, Mayo ; while 
the diminutive in in gives name to Tevrin in the 
parish of Rathconnell, Westmeath. 

Faithche. In front of the ancient Irish resi- 
dences, there was usually a level green plot, used 
for various purposes for games and exercises of 
different kinds, for the reception of visitors, &c. 
Faithche [f aha] was the name applied to this green ; 
the word is translated platea in Cormac's Glossary ; 
and it is constantly used by ancient Irish writers, 
who very frequently mention the faithche in con- 
nection with the king's or chieftain's fort. For 
instance, in the feast of Dun-na-ngedh it is related 
that a visitor reached " Aileach Neid (see p. 293, 
mpra), where the king held his residence at that 
time. The king came out upon the faithche, sur- 
rounded by a great concourse of the men of Erin ; 
and he was playing chess amidst the host" (Battle 
of Moyrath, p. 36). 

The word is, and has been, used to denote a 
hurling field, or fair green, or any level green 
field in which meetings were held, or games cele- 
brated, whether in connection with a fort or uot ; 
in the Irish version of Nennius, for instance, it is 
applied to a hurling-green. In Connaught, at the 
present time, it is universally understood to mean 
simply a level green field. 

The word enters pretty extensively into names, 
and it is generally made Fahy and Faha, the 
former being more usual in Connaught, and the 

CHAP, i.] Habitations and Fortresses. 297 

latter in Minister ; both together constitute the 
names of about thirty townlands. It enters into 
several compounds, such as Fahanasoodry near 
Ballylanders in Limerick, Faithche-na-sudaire, the 
green of the tanners, where tanning must have 
been carried on ; Fahykeen in Donegal, beautiful 

The word takes various other forms, of which 
the following names will be a sufficient illustration. 
Faheeran in the parish of Kilcomreragh, King's 
County, is a contraction of Faithche-Chiarain [Faha- 
Kieran : Four Masters], Ciaran's green plot ; Faia- 
fannan near Killybegs, Donegal, Fannan's green. 
It is made Foy in several places, as, for instance, 
near Rathangan in Kildare ; in Armagh we find 
Foyduff, Foybeg, and Foymore (black, little, 
great), and in Donegal, Foyfin, fair or whitish 
faithche. Foygh occurs in Longford and Tyrone ; 
in Donegal we have Foyagh, and in Fermanagh, 
Fyagh, both meaning a place abounding in green 

The townland of Dunseverick in Antrim, which 
takes its name from the well-known castle, is also 
called Feigh, a name derived, no doubt, from the 
faithche of the ancient dun, which existed ages 
before the erection of the castle ; and we may 
conclude that the name of Rathfeigh in Meath 
(the fort of the faithche or green), was similarly 
derived. The name Feigh occurs also in the south, 
but it is not derived from faithche. Ballynafoy in 
Down, is the town of the green ; the same name is 
found in Antrim, in the forms Ballynafeigh, 
Ballynafey, and Ballynafie ; and in Kildare we 
find it as Ballynafagh. 

The word occurs with three diminutives. Fahan 
in Kerry, and Fahane in Cork, both signify little 
faithche. Faheens (little green plots), is found in 

298 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

Mayo ; and there is a lake not far from the town 
of Donegal, called Lough Foyhin, the lake of the 
little green. In Sligo we have Foyoges, and in 
Longford, Fihoges, both having the same meaning 
as Faheens. 

Mothar. The ruin of a caher or rath is often 
designated in Munster by the term mothar [mo- 
her] ; and sometimes the word is applied to the 
ruin of any building. This is its usual meaning 
in Clare ; but its proper signification is " a cluster 
of trees or bushes ; " and in other parts of Ireland, 
this is probably the sense in which it should be 
interpreted when we find it in local names. On a 
cliff near Hag's Head, on the western coast of 
Clare, there formerly stood, and perhaps still stands 
an old caher or stone fort called Moher O'Ruan, 
O'Ruan's ruined fort ; and this is the feature that 
gave name to the well-known Cliffs of Moher. 

The word is used in the formation of local 
names pretty extensively in Munster and Con 
naught, and in two of the Ulster counties, Cavan 
and Fermanagh ; while in Leinster I find only 
one instance in the parish of Offerlane, Queen's 
County. Scattered over this area, Moher is the 
name of about twenty-five townlands, and it is 
found in combination in those of many others. 

The plural Mohera (clusters or ruined forts), is 
the name of a townland near Castlelyons in Cork ; 
and we find the word in Moheracreevy in Leitrim, 
the ruin or cluster of or near the creeve or large 
tree. In Cork, also, near Rathcormick, is a place 
called Mohereen, little moher ; and Moheragh, 
signifying a place abounding in makers, occurs in 
the parish of Donohill, Tipperary. Moheranea in 
Fermanagh, signifies the moher of the horse ; and 
Drummoher in Clare, and Drommoher in Limerick, 
the ridge of the ruined fort. 

CHAP, i.] Habitations and Fortresses. 299 

Crannog. The word crannog , a 'formation from 
crann, a tree, means literally a structure of wood. 
In former times the Anglo-Irish employed it very 
generally to signify a basket or hamper of a 
certain size for holding corn. In its topographical 
use the only use that concerns us here it is 
applied to wooden houses placed on artificial 
islands in lakes. These islands were formed in a 
shallow part, by driving stakes into the bottom, 
which were made to support cross beams ; and on 
these were heaped small trees, brambles, clay, &c., 
till the structure was raised over the surface of the 
water. On this the family, and in many cases 
several families, lived in wooden houses, sufficiently 
protected from enemies by the surrounding lake, 
while communication with the land was carried on 
by means of a small boat. The word crannog was 
very often, and is now generally understood, 
to mean the whole structure, both island and 

These lake dwellings were used from the most, 
remote ages down to the sixteenth or seventeenth 
century, and they are frequently mentioned in the 
annals. The remains of many of them have been 
recently discovered, and have been examined and 
described by several archaeologists. There are 
various places through the country whose names 
contain the word crannog, in most of which there 
was a lake, with an artificial island, though in 
some cases the lakes have disappeared. 

Crannoge is the name of a townland near 
Pomeroy in Tyrone ; Cronoge, of another in Kil- 
kenny ; and in the parish of Cloonclare, Leitrim 
is a place called Crannoge Island. Crannogebo) 
(yellow) in the parish of Inishkeel, Donegal, was 
once the residence of one of the O'Boyles. Cool- 
cronoge, the corner or angle of the wooden house, 

300 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

is the name of a place in the parish of Ardagh, 
Limerick. There is a small lake near Ballingarn 
in the north of Tipperary, called Loughnahinch 
(the lake of the island), in which there is a cran- 
noge fifty feet in diameter, which gave name both 
to the lake and to the townland of Ballinahinch ; 
and the parish of Ballinahinch in Connemara, 
which gives name to a barony, was so called from 
a crannoge on an island in Ballinahinch Lake. 
The Four Masters mention eight crannoges in as 
many different parts of Ireland. 

Longphort. This term is in frequent use, and 
generally signifies a fortress, but sometimes an 
encampment. The word was applied both to the 
old circular entrenched forts and to the more 
modern stone castles ; and the fortresses bearing 
this designation have given name to all those 
places called Longford, of which there are about 
twenty. The town of Longford is called in the 
annals Longford- O'Farrell, from the castle of the 
O'Farrells, the ancient proprietors, which, ac- 
cording to tradition, was situated where the 
military barrack now stands. The barony of 
Longford in Roscommon, takes its name from 
Longford castle in the parish of Tiranascragh. 
Longford demesne in the parish of Dromard. 
county Sligo, west of Ballysadare, now the pro- 
perty of the Crofton family, was formerly the 
seat of the O'Dowds, from whom it took the 
name of Longphort- O'Dowda (" Hy Fiachrach ") 
O'Dowd's fortress. 

In a few cases the word is somewhat disguised 
in modern names, as in Lonart near Killorglin in 
in Kerry, which is a mere softening of the sound 
of Longphort. Athlunkard is the name of a town- 
land near Limerick, from which Athlunkard-street 
in the city derives its name ; the correct angli- 

CHAP. I.] Habitations and Fortresses. 301 

cised form would be Athlongford, the ford of the 
fortress or encampment. And it sometimes takes 
such forms as Lonehort, Lonehurt, &c. 

Teach. This word [pron. tagh~\ means a house 
of any kind, and is cognate with Lat. tectum ; it 
was used hoth in pagan and Christian times, and 
has found its way extensively into local names. 
The best anglicised form is tagh, which is of fre- 
quent occurrence, as in Tagheen a parish in Mayo, 
which is called in " Hy Fiachrach," Teach-chaein, 
beautiful house ; and Taghboy, a parish in Meath, 
yellow house. Sometimes the final guttural was 
omitted, as in Taduff in Roscommon, black house. 

The form tigh [tee] is however in more general 
use in the formation of names than the nominative 
(see p. 33) ; and it usually appears as tee, ti, and 
ty. Teebane and Teemore (white and great house), 
are the names of several townlands in the northern 
counties ; Tibradden near Dublin, and Tyone near 
Nenagh, Braddan's and John's house. 

When tigh is joined with the genitive of thft 
article, it almost always takes the form of tin or 
tinna, which we find in the beginning of a great 
number of names. There is a small town in Car- 
low, and several townlands in Wicklow and 
Queen's County, called Tinnahinch, which repre- 
sents the Irish Tigh-na-hinns$> the house of the 
island or river holm ; Tincurragh and Tincurry in 
Wexford and Tipperary, the house of the curragh 
or marsh ; Tinnascart in Cork and Waterf ord, and 
Tinnascarty in Kilkenny, the house of the scart or 
cluster of bushes. 

The site on which a house stood is often de- 
noted by the combination ait-tighe [aut-tee], 
literally, " the place of a house ; " in modern 
names it is almost always made atti or atty, which 
form the beginning of about sixty townland names, 

302 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

the latter part being very often the name of the 
former owner of the house. It occurs once in the 
Four Masters at 1256, where they mention a place 
called Ait-tighe-Mic-Cuimin, the site of Mac 
Currin's house. 

Attidermot near Aughrim in Galway, signifies 
the site of Dermot's house ; Attykit near Cashel 
in Tipperary of Ceat's or Ket's house. In a few 
cases, the compound is followed by some term 
characterising the house, as in Attiduff inMonagh- 
an and Sligo, the site of the black house ; 
Attatantee in Donegal, in Irish Ait-a'-tsean-tighe, 
the site of the old house. The word ait is some- 
times used alone, to denote the site of anything, 
as in Atshanbo in Tipperary, the site of the old 
tent (both, a tent) ; Attavally, the name of three 
townlands in Mayo, the site of the bally or village. 

From the general meaning of house, teach or 
tigh came to be used frequently in Christian times 
to denote a church ; and hence the word is often 
joined to the names of saints, to designate ecclesi- 
astical foundations, which afterwards gave names 
to parishes and townlands. Examples of this occur 
in Chap. in. Part II. ; and I will add a few more 

Taghadoe, a parish in Kildare, takes its name 
from an old church, which, however, has wholly 
disappeared, though a portion of the round tower 
still stands in the churchyard ; the name is written 
by Irish authorities, Teach- Tuae, St. Tua's church. 
Tiaquin was originally the name of a primitive 
church in Galway, and it is written in Irish Tigh- 
Dachonna [Teaconna], St. Dachonna's house, from 
which the present name was formed by contraction, 
and by the aspiration of the D (see p. 20). A 
castle was erected there long afterwards, from 
which the barony of Tiaquin has been so called. 

CHAP, i.j Habitations and Fortresses. 303 

Timahoe in Queen's County, well known for its 
beautiful round tower, took its name (Tech-Hochua, 
O'Clery's Cal.) from St. Mochua, the original 
founder and patron, who flourished in the sixth 
century. St. Munna or Fintan, who died, A. D. 
634, founded a monastery in Wexford, which was 
called from him Teach-Munna (Book of Leinster), 
St. Munna's house, now modernised to Taghmon ; 
and the parish of Taghmon in Westmeath de- 
rived its name from the same saint. Tymon, the 
name of a place near Dublin, containing an in- 
teresting castle ruin, has the same signification as 
Taghmon, but whether the Munna whom it com- 
memorates, is the same as St. Munna of Taghmon, 
I cannot tell. 

This word enters into various other combinations 
in local names. There is a townland in the parish 
of Lower Bodoney, Tyrone, called Crockatanty, 
whose Irish name is Cnoc-a'-tsean-tighe (see pp. 
51 and 23, supra), the hill of the old house ; and 
we see the same form in Tullantanty (Tulach, a 
hill) in Cavan, and which has also the same 
meaning. Edentiroory near Dromore in Down, 
means the edan or hill-brow of Rory's house. 

I have already mentioned (p. 65) that in some 
of the eastern counties, s is some/ 'mes prefixed to 
this word ; and in addition to tht- examples given 
there, I may mention Staholmog in Meath, St. 
Colmoc's or Mocholmoc's house ; and Stamullen in 
the same county, Maelan's house. 

Both [boh] . This word signifies a tent, booth, 
or hut, and it was applied not only to the huts 
erected for human habitation, but also sometimes 
to cattle-houses. It is an old word in the language, 
and exists also in the kindred Keltic dialects : 
Welsh bod, Cornish bod and bos. It occurs very 
often in our ancient authorities ; and the annals 

304 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

make mention of several places whose names were 
derived from these huts. 

Templeshanbo at the foot of Mount Leinster in 
Wexford, was anciently called Seanboth [Shan- 
boh], old tent or hut, the prefix Temple having 
been added in recent times. It was also called 
Seanboth- SinS, and Seanboth-Colmain, from St. 
Colman O'Fiachra, who was venerated there. 
Seanboth- Sing signifies the old tent of Sin [Sheen] 
a woman's name belonging to the pagan ages ; and 
it is very probable that this was its original name, 
and that St. Colman, like many other Irish saints, 
adopted it without change. There is a Shanbo in 
Meath, a Shanboe in Queen's County ; and Shan- 
bogh is the name of a parish in Kilkenny all 
different forms of the same word. It also appears 
in Drumshanbo (the drum or ridge of the old 
tent), the name of a village in the parish of Kil- 
toghert Leitrim, of a townland in the parish of 
Cloone, same county, and of another in the parish 
of Kildress, Tyrone. This name is popularly be- 
lieved in my opinion erroneously to signify 
" the ridge of the old cow " (bo, a cow), from the 
resemblance of the outline of the hill at each 
place, to a cow's back.. 

Bough, which is merely an adaptation of Both, 
is the name of a townland in Carlow, and of 
another in Monaghan. Raphoe in Donegal is 
called in the annals Rath-both, the fort of the 
huts. In the Tripartite Life it is related that 
while St. Patrick was at Dagart in the territory of 
Magdula, he founded seven churches, of which 
Both-Domhnaigh (the tent of the church) was one; 
which name is still retained in the parish of Bo- 
doney in Tyrone. There is an old church near 
Dungiven in Londonderry, which in various Irish 
authorities is called Both-Mheidhbhc [Veva]. 

CHAP, i.] Habitations and Fortresses. 305 

Maive's hut, an old pagan name which is now 
modernised to Bovevagh. Bohola, a parish in 
Mayo, takes its name from a church now in ruins, 
which is called in " Hy Fiachrach," Both-Thola, 
St. Tola's tent ; and in the parish of Templeniry, 
Tipperary, there is a townland called Montanavoe,^ 
in Irish Mointedn-a'-boith, the boggy land of the 

We have the plural (botha) represented by Boho, 
a parish in Fermanagh, which is only a part of its 
name as given by the Four Masters, viz., the 
Botha or tents of Muintir Fialain, this last being 
the name of the ancient tribe who inhabited the 
district : Bohaboy in Galway, yellow tents. 

Almost all local names in Ireland beginning 
with Boh (except the Bohers], and those also that 
end with -boha and -bohy, are derived from this 
word. Thus Bohullion in Donegal represents th 
Irish Both-chuillinn, the ha it of the holly, i. e. 
surrounded with holly-trees. Knockboha, a famous 
hill in the parish of Lackan, Mayo, is called in 
" Hy Fiachrach," Cnoc-botha, the hill of the hut ; 
and Knocknaboha in Limerick and Tipperary, has 
the same meaning. 

There are two diminutives of this word, viz., 
Bothdn and Bothog [bohaun, bohoge], both of 
which are in very common use in the south and 
west of Ireland, even among speakers of English, 
to denote a cabin or hut of any kind. Bohaun 
is the name of four townlands in Galway and 
Mayo ; and we find Bohanboy (yellow little hut) 
in Donegal. The other, Bohoge, is the name of 
a townland in the parish of Manulla, Mayo. 

Caislen. The woid caislen or caislean [cashlaun] 
is applied to a castle ; and like caiseal, it is evi- 
dently a loan-word a diminutive formation from 
the Latin castellum. Like the older duns> cabers, &c., 
voi,. i. 21 

30G Artificial Structures [PABT m 

these more modern structures gave names to nu- 
merous places, and the word is almost always 
represented by the English word castle. 

Of the names containing this word, far the 
greater number are purely Irish, notwithstanding 
the English look of the word castle. Castlereagh 
"is a small town in Roscommon, which gives name 
to a barony. The castle, of which there are now 
no remains, stood on the west side of the town, and 
it is called by the Four Masters, Caislen-riabhach, 
grey castle. There is a barony in Down of the 
same name, which was so called from an old castle, 
a residence of a branch of the O'Neills, which 
stood on a height in the townland of Castlereagh 
near Belfast ; and some half dozen townlands in 
different counties are called by this name, so des- 
criptive of the venerable appearance of an ancient 
castle. Castlebar in Mayo belonged, after the 
English invasion, to the Barrys, one of whom no 
doubt built a castle there, though the name is the 
only record we have of the event. It is called in 
Irish authorities, Caislen-an-Bharraigh (Barry's 
castle) ; and Downing, who wrote a short descrip- 
tion of Mayo in 1680, calls it Castle Barry, which 
has been shortened to the present name. 

In a few cases, the Irish form is preserved, as 
for example in Cashlan, the name of two town- 
lands in Monaghan, and of one in Antrim; Cash- 
laundarragh in Galway, the castle of the oak-tree ; 
Cashlancran in Mayo, the castle of the trees ; 
BaLycushlane in "Wexford, the town of the castle. 

Daingean. The word daingean [dangan] as an 
adjective, means strong; as a noun it means a 
stronghold of any kind, whether an ancient cir- 
cular fort, or a more modern fortress or castle ; 
and it is obviously connected with the English 
words dungeon and donjon. Dangan, which is the 

CHAP. I.] Habitations and Fortresses. 307 

correct English form, is the name of a village 
in Kilkenny, and of a number of townlands, in- 
cluding Dangan in Meath, once the residence of 
the Duke of Wellington. This was also the old 
name of Philipstown; the erection of " the castle of 
Daingean " is recorded by the Four Masters at 
1546 ; but it is probable that the name is older 
than the castle, and that it had been previously 
borne by a circular fort. The name of Dun- 
danion at Blackrock near Cork, is like that of 
Dunluce (p. 277, supra] ; for dun is here an adjec- 
tive, and the name signifies strong dangan 01 

Occasionally this word is anglicised Dingin, 
\vhich is the name of a townland in Cavan ; Ding- 
ma vanty in the parish of Kildrumsherdan in 
this county, means Mantagh's fortress. It is this 
form which has given origin to the modern name 
of Dingle in Kerry, by the usual change of final i 
to n (Dingin, Dingell, Dingle : see p. 48). It is 
called in the annals, Daingean-ui- Chuis, now usually 
written Dingle-I-Coush, i. e. the fortress oi 
O'Cush, the ancient proprietor before the English 
invasion. These people sometimes call themselves 
Hussey in English, and this is the origin of the 
mistaken assertion made by some writers, that the 
place received its name from the English family of 

In the north of Ireland the ng in the middle of 
the word daingean, is pronounced as a soft guttural, 
which as it is very faint, and quite incapable of 
being represented by English letters, is suppressed 
in modern spelling, thereby changing daingean to 
dian or some such form. There are >me town- 
lands called Dian and Dyan in Tyrone andMonagh- 
an; two in Armagh and one in Down, called 
Lisadian, the Us of the stronghold. Even in Mayo, 

308 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

a pronunciation much the same is sometimes heard ; 
and hence we have the name of Ballindine, a 
village in that county, the same as Ballindagny in 
Longford, Ballindaggan in Wexford, and Ballin- 
dangan near Mitchelstown in Cork, the town of 
the stronghold. Elsewhere in Mayo, however, the 
word retains its proper form as in Killadangan, 
the wood of the fortress. 

Badhun, or Badhbhdhun [bawn]. Beside many 
of the old castles, there was a baicn or large en- 
closure surrounded by a strong fence or wall, 
which was often protected by towers ; and into 
this enclosure the cattle were driven by night to 
protect them from wolves or robbers. It corres- 
ponds to the faithche of the old pagan fortresses 
(see p. 296), and served much the same purposes ; 
for as Smith remarks, speaking of the castle of 
Kilcrea, west of Cork, " the bawn was the only 
appendage formerly to great men's castles, which 
places were used for dancing, goaling, and such 
diversions and for keeping cattle at 


O'Donovan, writing in the " Ulster Journal of 
Archaeology," says: "The term bawn, which 
frequently appears in documents relating to Irish 
history since the plantation of Ulster, is the angli- 
cised form of the Irish badhun, an enclosure or 
fortress for cows. It occurs seldom in Irish docu- 
ments, the earliest mention of a castle so called 
being found in the ' Four Masters' at 1547, viz. 
Badhun-Riaganach* From this forward it is met 
with in different parts of Ireland. In the most 
ancient Irish documents, a cow fortress is more 
usually called bo-dhaingean, but bo-dhun or ba-ahun 

* The word occurs, however, in the form of bo-dhun in the 
Annals of Lough Ce at the years 1199 and 1200. 

CHAP. I.] Habitations and Fortresses. 309 

is equally correct. Sometimes written Badhbh- 
dhun, the fortress of Badhbh [Bauv], the Bellona 
of the ancient Irish, but this is probably a fanciful 
writing of it." This latter form, however, and 
its presumed derivation from the name of the old 
war goddess, receives some support from the fact, 
that in Ulster it is pronounced bauvan, in which 
the v plainly points to a bh in the Irish original ; 
and this pronunciation is perpetuated in Bavan, 
the name of three townlands in Down , Cavan, and 

The bawn may still be seen near the ruins of 
many of the old castles through the country ; and 
in some cases the surrounding wall, with its towers, 
remains in tolerable preservation. The syllable 
bawn is of very usual occurrence in local names, 
but as this is also the anglicised form of ban a 
green field, it is often difficult to tell f : oin which 
of the two Irish words it is derived, for badhun 
and ban are pronounced nearly alike. The town- 
land of Bawn in the parish of Moydow, Longford, 
derives its name from the bawn of Moydow castle, 
whose ruins remain yet in the townland. 

Lathrach. The site of anything is denoted by 
the word lathrach [lauragh], but this word is 
usually applied to the site of some sort of building. 
Lathrach senmuilind (H. 3. 18, T. C. D.), the site 
of an old mill. There are many places scattered 
through the four provinces called Laragh and 
Lauragh, to which this word gives name ; Laragh 

* Duald Mac Firbis writes the word badhbh-dhun in " Hy- 
Fiachrach." Boa Island, in Lough Erne, is called by the Four 
Masters Badhbha, while the natives call it Inis-Badhbhan, i. e. 
the island of Badhbh. Mr. W. M. Hennessy's paper read a 
short time since " On the War-Goddess of the Ancient Irish," 
it not yet published, and I regret not being able to avail my- 
self of it to illustrate more fully this interesting subject. 

310 Artificial Ktnicftires. T^AKT in. 

in the parish of Skreen in Sligo, is called Lathrach 
in the Book of Lecan, and the village of Laragh 
at the entrance to CHendalough is another well- 
known example. Laraghaleas in Londonderry 
means the site of the Us or fort ; Laraghshankill 
in Armagh, the site of the old church (see Shan- 
kill) ; Laraghbryan near Leixlip in Kildare, 
Bryan's house site. Caherlarhig, the stone fort of 
the site, near Clonakilty in Cork, very probably 
derived its name from a caher, built on the site of 
a more ancient dun. 

Lathair [lauher], from which lathrach is derived, 
and which literally means "presence," is itself 
sometimes used in Cork and Kerry to signify a 
site, and is found also forming a part of names in 
these counties. Laheratanvally near Skibbereen 
in Cork, the site of the old town (Lathair-a '- 
tseanbhaile) ; Lahertidaly in the same neighbour- 
hood, the site of Daly's house. Laracor near Trim 
in Meath, once the residence of Dean Swift, ia 
called in an Inq. of Jac. I. Laraghcorre, which 
points to the original Irish form Lat'<rack-cora, 
the site of the weir. "We find the diminutive 
Lareen in Leitrim, and Lerhin in Galway ; Lis- 
larheen (-more and -beg) in Clare, signifies the 
fort of the little site. 

Laragh in the parish of Kilcumreragh, West- 
meath, takes its name from a castle of the Mageo- 
ghegans, whose ruins are yet there, and which the 
Four Masters call Leath-rath [Lara], i. e. half 
rath ; and some of the other Laraghs are probably 
derived from this Irish compound, and not from 
lathrach. Leath-rath is also the Irish name of 
Lara or Abbeylara in Longford, for so it is written 
in the annals. 

Suidhe f see]. This word means a seat or sitting 
place, cognate with Lat. sedes ; it is found in our 

CHAP. T.] Habitations and Fortresses. 31] 

oldest authorities ; and among others, the MSS. 
of Zeuss (Gram. Celt. p. 60). It is frequently 
used in the formation of names, usually under the 
forms see, sy, se, and sea ; and these four syllables, 
in the sense of " seat," begin the names of over 
thirty townlands. It is very commonly followed 
by a personal name, which is generally understood 
to mean that the place so designated was fre- 
quented by the person, either as a residence, or as 
a favourite resort. The names of men, both pagan 
and Christian, are found combined with it. 

See, which exactly represents suidhe in pronun- 
ciation, is the name of a townland in Cavan. On 
the south shore of Lough Derg in Donegal, is the 
townland Seadavog, the seat of St. Davog, the 
patron of Termondavog, or as it is now called 
Termonmagrath. In this name the word sea is 
understood in its literal sense, for the people still 
show the stone chair in which the saint was wont 
to sit. 

The parish of Seagoe in Armagh, is called in 
Irish Suidhe- Gobha [See-gow], the seat of St. 
Gobha (Gow) or Gobanus; Colgan calls him 
" Gobanus of Teg-da-Goba, at the bank of the 
river Bann ;" from which expression it appears 
that the place was anciently called Tech-Dagobha, 
the house of St. Dagobha, this last name being the 
same as Gobanus (p. 148, note, supra ; see Reeves's 
Eccl. Ant, p. 107) ; and the parish of Seapatrick 
x^n Down, is called in Trais. Thaum. Suid/te- 
Padruic, St. Patrick's sitting-place 

Shiurone in the King's County is mentioned by 
the Four Masters, who call it Suidhe- an-roin [Seen- 
rone] , the seat of the ron, i. e. literally a seal, but 
figuratively a hirsute or hairy man. In the same 
authority we find Seeoranin Cavan, written Suidhe- 
Qdhrain. Odhran's or Oran's seat. Seeconglass in 

312 Artificial Structures- [PART in. 

Limerick, Cuglas's seat ; Syunchin near Clogher 
in Tyrone, the seat of the ash, i. e. abounding in 

Suidheachdn [seehaun] is a diminutive formation 
on suid/ie, which we also find occasionally in names. 
For instance, there is a hill called Seeghane (the 
seat) near Tallaght in Dublin ; Seehanes (seats) is 
the name of a place near Dromdaleague in Cork, 
so called because it was the seat of 0' Donovan ; 
and Seeaghandoo and Seeaghanbane (black and 
white), are two townlands in Mayo. 



IT is well known that most of the terms employed 
in Irish to designate Christian structures, cere- 
monies, and offices, are derived directly from 
Latin. The early missionaries, finding no suitable 
words in the native language, introduced the 
necessary Latin terms, which, in course of time, 
were more or less considerably modified according 
to the laws of Irish pronunciation. Those applied 
to buildings are noticed in this chapter ; but we 
have besides such words as easpog, old Irish epscof, 
a bishop, from episcopus ; sagart or sacart, a priest, 
from sacerdos ; beannacht, old Irish bendacht, a 
blessing, from benedictio ; Aiffrionn or Aiffrend, 
the Mass, from offerenda ; and many others. (See 
Second Volume, Chaps, vi. and xxvi.) 

We know from many ancient authorities that 
the early Irish churches were usually built of 
timber planks, or of wattles or hurdles, plastered 
over with clay ; and that this custom was so gene- 

CHAP. IT.] Eccksinstfaal Edifice*. 313 

ral as to be considered a national characteristic. 
Bede, for instance, mentions that when Finan, an 
Irish monk, became bishop of Lindisfarne, " he 
built a church fit for his episcopal see ; he made 
it not, however, of stone, but altogether of sawn 
oak, and covered it with reeds, after the manner 
of the Scots" (Hist. Eccl., III. 25) ; and many 
other authorities to the same effect might be cited. 
In some of the lives of the early saints, we have 
interesting accounts of the erection of structures 
of this kind, very often by the hands of the eccle- 
siastics themselves accounts that present beau- 
tiful pictures of religious devotion and humility ; 
for the heads of the communities often worked 
with their own hands, in building up their simple 
churches men who were, for long ages after- 
wards, and are still, venerated for their learning 
and holiness. 

These structures, often put up hastily to meet 
the wants of a newly formed religious community, 
or the recently converted natives of a district, we 
know were generally very small and simple ; and 
in some cases the names preserve the memory of 
the primitive materials. Kilclief in the county 
of Down, took its name from one of those rude 
edifices; for its Irish name, as used by several 
authorities, is Citt-ckithe [cleha], the hurdle church 
(cliath a hurdle), from which the present form has 
been derived by the change of th to /(p. 52). The 
same name is found as Kilclay near Clogher in 
Tyrone ; and a parish in Westmeath, called Kil- 
cleagh (Killcliathagh in Reg. Clon.), exhibits 
another, and still more correct form. 

But timber was not the only material employed ; 
for stone churches began to be erected from the 
earliest Christian period. It was believed, indeed, 
until very recently, that buildings of stone and 

314 Artificial Structures. [PART in 

mortar were unknown in Ireland previous to the 
Anglo-Norman invasion; but Petrie has shown 
that churches of stone were erected in the fifth, 
sixth, and succeeding centuries ; and the ruins of 
many of these venerable structures are still to be 
seen, and have been identified as the very build- 
ings erected by the early saints. 

Gill. The Irish words, till, eaglais, teamputt, 
domhnach, &c. all originally Latin signify a 
church. Gill (kill), also written cell and ceall, is 
the Latin cella, and next to baile, it is the most 
prolific root in Irish names. Its most usual angli- 
cised form is kill or kil, but it is also made kyle, 
keel, and cal ; there are about 3,400 names begin- 
ning with these syllables, and if we estimate that 
a fifth of them represent coill, a wood, there remain 
about 2,700 whose first syllable is derived from 
till. Of these the greater number are formed by 
-placing the name of the founder or patron after 
this word, of which I give a few illustrative ex- 
amples here, but many more will be found scattered 
through the book. 

Colnian was a favourite name among the Irish 
saints; O'Clery's Calendar alone commemorates 
about sixty of the name. It is radically the same 
as Colum or Columba, and its frequency is prob- 
ably to be attributed to veneration for the great 
St. Columba. There are in Ireland seven parishes, 
and more than twenty townlands (including 
Spenser's residence in Cork) called Kilcolman 
(Colman's church) ; but in many of these it is now 
difficult or impossible to determine the individual 
saints after whom they were called. St. Cainnech 
or Canice, who gave name to Kilkenny, and also to 
Kilkenny "West, in Westmeath, was abbot of Agh- 
abo in Queen's County, where he had his principal 
church ; he is mentioned by Adamnan in his Lif o 

CHAP ii.] Ecclesiastical Isdifices, 315 

of St. Columba ; he was born in A.D. 517, and died 
in the year 600. He was a native of the territory 
of Keenaght in Derry, and he is much venerated 
in Scotland, where he is called Kenneth ; and 
several churches in Argyle and in the Western 
Islands, now called Kilkenneth and Kilkenzie, 
were named from him. There are thirty-five 
townlands and parishes scattered through the four 
provinces, called Kilbride, in Irish CUl-Bhrighde, 
Brigid's or Bride's church, most of which were 
dedicated to St. Brigid of Kildare ; and Kilbreedy, 
the name of two parishes in Limerick, has the 
same origin. Kilmurry is the name of nearly fifty 
townlands, in most of which there must have been 
churches dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, for the 
usual Irish name is Cill-Mhuire, Mary's church; 
but some may have been so called from persons 
named Muireadhach. 

Besides the names of saints, this term is com- 
bined with various other words, to form local 
names. Shankill, in Irish Seincheall, old church, 
is the name of seventeen townlands and four 
parishes, among others the parish which includes 
Belfast. There is a village in Kildare called Kil- 
cullen, which was much celebrated for its monas- 
tery ; it is called by Irish writers Cill-cuilUnn, the 
church of the holly ; and there are several town- 
lands in other counties of the same name. At 
Killeigh near Tullamore, there was once a great 
ecclesiastical establishment, under the patronage 
of St. Sincheall. Its original name, as used in 
Irish authorities, is Cill-achaidh [Killahy], the 
church of the field, which has been softened down 
to the present form. There was, according to 
Colgan, another place of the same name in East 
Brefney ; and to distinguish them, Killeigh in 
King's County is usually called by the annalists 

316 Artificial Structures, PAIIT in. 

Cill-achaidh-droma-fada, i. e. Killeigh of Drumfada, 
from a long ridge or hill which rises immediately 
over the village. 

Kyle, a form much used in the south, is itself 
the name of more than twenty townlands, and con- 
stitutes the first syllable of about eighty others ; a 
large proportion of these, however, probably half, 
are not churches but woods (coill). In some parts 
of the south, Kyle is used to denote a burial-place 
for children, and sometimes for unbaptised infants, 
but this is a modern application. 

The diminutive KiUeen is the name of about 
eighty townlands, and its combinations are very 
numerous all derived from a " little church/' 
except about a fifth from " woods." Killeentierna 
in Kerry must have been founded by, or dedicated 
to, some saint named Tierna, or Tighernach. Kil- 
leens and Killeeny, little churches, are also often 
met with. Monagilleeny near Ardmore in Water- 
ford, is in Irish Moin-na-gcillinidhe, the bog of the 
little churches. 

Calluragh, or as it is written in Irish, Ceallu- 
rach, which is a derivative from till, is applied in 
the southern counties, and especially in Clare, to 
an old burying-ground ; sometimes it means a 
burial-place disused, except only for the interment 
of children ; and occasionally it denotes a burial- 
place for unbaptised infants, even where there 
never was a church ; as for example, in the parish 
of Kilcrohane in Kerry, where the old forts or 
lisses are sometimes set apart for this purpose, and 
called Callooraghs. In the anglicised form, Callu- 
ragh, this word has given name to several town- 

Cealtrach [caltragh], which is also a derivative 
from till> is used chiefly in the western half of 
Ireland to denote an old burying-ground. It is 

CHAP, ii.] Ecclesiastical Edifices. 317 

commonly anglicised Caltragh, which is the name 
of a great many places ; and there is a village in 
Galway called Caltra, another modification of the 
same word. We find Cloonacaltry in Sligo and 
Roscommon, the cloon or meadow of the burying- 
ground. Cealdrach [caldragh], another Irish 
form, gives name to eight townlands, now called 
Caldragh, which are confined to six counties, with 
Leitrim as centre ; in one case it is made Keeldra 
in the last county. 

Eaglais. Another term for a church is eaglais 
[aglish], derived, in common with the Welsh 
eccluis, the Cornish eglos, and the Armoric ylis, 
from the Latin ecclesia. This term was applied 
to a great many churches in Ireland ; for we have 
a considerable number of parishes and townlands 
called Aglish and Eglish, the former being more 
common in the south, and the latter in the north. 
There is a parish in Tipperary called Aglishclogh- 
ane, the church of the cloghaun or row of step- 
ping-stones ; another in Limerick called Aglish- 
cormick, St. Cormac's church ; and a third in 
Cork, called Aglishdrinagh, the church of the 
dreem or sloe-bushes. BaUynahaglish, the town of 
the church, is the name of a parish in Mayo, and 
of another in Kerry; and near Ballylanders in 
Limerick, is a place called Grlennahaglish, the glen 
of the church. In the corrupt form Heagles, it is 
the name of two townlands near Ballymoney in 
Antrim ; and in the same neighbourhood we find 
Drumaheglis, the ridge or long hill of the church. 

Teampull. From the Latin templum is derived 
the Irish teampull. Like till, eaglais, and domhnach, 
it was adopted at a very early date, being found in 
the oldest Irish MSS., among others those cited by 
Zeuss. In anglicised names it is usually changed 
to temple, which forms the beginning of about 

318 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

ninety townland names ; and it is to be borne in 
mind that these, though to all appearance at least 
partly English, are in reality wholly Irish. A re- 
markably large proportion of parishes have taken 
their names from these teampulls, there being no 
less than fifty parish names beginning with the 
word temple. 

There are four parishes in Cork, Longford, Tip- 
perary, and Waterf ord, where the original churches 
must have been dedicated to the Archangel 
Michael, as they still bear the name of Temple- 
michael ; Templebredon in Tipperary, is called in 
Irish Teampull-ui-Bhridedin, O'Bredon's church ; 
and Temple-etneyin the same county, was so called 
from St. Eithne, whose memory is fast dying out 
there. The original church of Templecarn, not 
far from Pettigo in Donegal, must have been built 
near a pagan sepulchre, for the name signifies the 
church of the earn or monument. Templetuohy 
in Tipperary signifies the church of the tuath or 
territory, and it received this name as having been 
the principal church of the tuath or district in 
which it was situated. A cathedral, or any large 
or important church, was sometimes called, by way 
of distinction, Templemore, great church ; and this 
is the name of three parishes in Londonderry, 
Mayo, and Tipperary, the first including the city 
of Deny, and the last the town of Templemore. 

Domhnach. The Irish word domhnach [dow- 
nagh], which signifies a church, and also Sunday, 
is from the Latin Dominica, the Lord's day. Ac- 
cording to the Tripartite Life, Jocelin, Ussher, 
&c., all the churches that bear the name of Domhn- 
achy or in the anglicised form, Donagh, were 
originally founded by St. Patrick ; and they were 
so called because he marked out their foundations 
on Sunday. For example, in the Tripartite Life 

CHAP. ii.J Ecclesiastical Edifices. 319 

we are told that the saint " having remained for 
seven Sundays in Cianachta, laid the foundations 
of seven sacred houses to the Lord ; [each of] 
which he therefore called Dominica," i. e. in Irish 
Domhnach. Shanonagh in the parish of Temple- 
oran in Westmeath, is called Sendonagh, in Sir 
Robert Nugent' s Patent, and explained in it " Old 
Sonday," but it properly means " Old Church." 

In the year 439, while St. Patrick was in Con- 
naught, his nephew, bishop Sechnall or Secundi- 
nus, arrived in Ireland in company with some 
others. He was the son of Restitutus the Lombard 
by St. Patrick's sister Liemania or Darerca (see p. 
95, supra], and very soon after he was left by his 
uncle in Meath. The church founded for him, 
where he resided till his death in 448, was called 
from him Domhnach- Sechnaill [Donna-Shaugh- 
nill: Leabhar Breac], the church of St. Sechnall, 
now shortened to Dunshaughlin, which is the name 
of a village and parish in the county Meath. 

There are nearly forty townlands whose names 
are formed by, or begin with, Donagh of which 
more than twenty are also parish names. In 
all these places there must have been one of 
the primitive Dominicas, and most of them have 
burial-places and ruins to this day; fourteen of 
the parishes are called Donaghmore, great church. 
Donaghanie near Clogherny in Tyrone, is called 
by the Four Masters, Domhnach-an-eich, the 
church of the steed ; according to the same autho- 
rity, the proper name of Donaghmoyne in Mon- 
aghan, is Domhnach-maighin, the church of the 
little plain ; and there is a place of the same name 
near Clogher in Tyrone. The Irish name of 
Donaghedy in Tyrone, is Domhnach- Chaeide (O'C. 
Cal) ; and it was so called from St. Caeide or 
Caidoc, a companion of St. Columbanus. The 

320 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

genitive form of the word (see p. 34) gives name 
to Donnycarney, a village a few miles to the 
north of Dublin, and to Donacarney in Meath, near 
the mouth of the Boyne, both names signifying 
Cearnach's church. 

Aireagal. This word (pronounced arrigle) 
means primarily a habitation, but in a secondary 
sense, it was often applied to an oratory, hermi- 
tage, or small church. The word is obviously 
derived from the Latin oraculum ; for besides the 
similarity of form, we know that in the Latin 
Lives of the Irish saints who flourished on the 
continent, the oratories they founded are often 
designated by the term oraculum (Petrie, R. 
Towers, p. 349). It has been used in Irish from 
the earliest times, for it occurs in our oldest MSS., 
as for instance in the Leabhar na hUidhre, where 
we find it in the form airicul. 

Errigal, the usual English form, is the name of 
a parish in Londonderry, and of a townland in 
Cavan. The well-known mountain called Errigal 
in Donegal, in all probability took its name from 
an oratory somewhere near it. The church of 
Errigal Keerogue, which gives name to a parish 
in Tyrone, was once a very important establish- 
ment ; it is often mentioned by the annalists, and 
called by them Aireagal-Dachiarog, the church of 
St. Dachiarog. Errigal Trough in Honaghan, is 
called in Irish Aireagal- Triucha, the church of 
(the barony of) Trough. Duarrigle is the name 
of a place on the Blackwater, near Mill- street in 
Cork, containing the ruins of a castle built by 
the O'Keeffes; its Irish name is Dubh-aireagal, 
black habitation or oratory; there is another 
place of the same name near Kanturk ; and we have 
Coolnaharragill in the parish of Glanbehy, west 
of Killarney, the corner or angle of the oratory. 

CHAP, ii.] Eccfesiastical Edifices. 321 

Urnaidhe. This word which is variously written 
urnaidhe, ornaidhe, or ernaidhe [urny, erny], sig- 
nifies primarily a prayer, but in a secondary sense 
it is applied to a prayer- house : Latin oratorium. 
It takes most commonly the form Urney, which 
is the name of some parishes and townlands in 
Cavan, Tyrone and King's County ; Urney in 
Tyrone is often mentioned by the Four Masters, 
and called Ernaidhe or Urnaidhe. The word often 
incorporates the article in English (see p. 23), and 
becomes Nurney (an Urnaidhe, the oratory), 
which is the name of several parishes, villages, 
and townlands, in Carlow and Kildare. It occurs 
in combination in Templenahurney in Tipperary, 
the church of the oratory. 

Serin. Serin [skreen], which comes directly 
from the Latin scrinium, signifies a shrine, i. e. 
an ornamented casket or box, containing the relics 
of a saint. These shrines were very usual in 
Ireland ; they were held in extraordinary venera- 
tion, and kept with the greatest care ; and several 
churches where they were preserved were known 
on this account by the Irish name Serin, or in 
English, Skreen or Skrine. The most remark- 
able of these was Skreen in Meath, which is called 
in the annals Serin- Choluimcille, St. Columkille's 
shrine, and it was so called because a shrine 
containing some of that saint's relics was preserved 

Lann. Lann, in old Irish land, means a house 
or church. The word is Irish, but in its ecclesi- 
astical application, it was borrowed from the 
Welsh, and was introduced into Ireland at a very 
early age ; when it means simply " house," it is 
no doubt purely Irish, and not a loan word. It 
forms part of the terms ith-lann and lann-iotha 
[ihlan, lan-iha], both of which are used to signiiy 
VOL. i. 22 

322 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

a granary or barn, literally house of corn (ith, 
corn) ; the latter is often used by the English- 
speaking people of some of the Minister counties, 
who call a barn a linnet/ ; and from the former we 
have Carrignahihilan, the name of a townland 
near Kenmare, the rock of the granary. Lann 
is found in our earliest MSS., among others in 
those of Zeuss ; it occurs also in an ancient charter 
in the Book of Kells, in the sense of house, and it is 
so translated by O'Donovan. It is a word common 
to several languages, and its primary signification 
seems to be an enclosed piece of ground ; " Old 
Arm. lann ; Ital., Fr., Provencal landa, lande, 
Gothic (and English) land'' (Ebel). 

It is not found extensively in local nomencla- 
ture, and I cannot find it at all in the south ; but 
it has given origin to the names of a few remark- 
able plaees ; and it is usually anglicised lyn, lynn> 
or lin, from the oblique form lainn [lin : see p. 
34, supra], as in the word linney quoted above. 
The celebrated St. Colman-Elo, patron of Lynally 
near Tullamore, was, according to O'Clery's Calen- 
dar, the son of St. Columba's sister. At an 
assembly of saints held in this neighbourhood 
about the year 590, Columba, who had come from 
the convention at Druim-cett, to visit his 
monastery at Durrow, proposed that a spot of 
ground should be given to Colman, where he 
might establish a monastery; and Aed Slaine, 
prince of Meath, afterwards king of Ireland, 
answered that there was a large forest in his 
principality, called Fidh-Elo [Fee-Elo], i. e. the 
wood of Ela, where he might settle if he wished. 
Colman accepted it and said : " My resurrection 
shall be there, and henceforth I shall be named 
[Colman-Elo] from that place." He soon after 
erected a monastery there, which became very 

CHAP, ii."] Ecclesiastical Edifices. 323 

famous, and which was called Lann-Elo or Land- 
Ealla (O'Clery's Cal.), i. e. the church of Ela, 
now anglicised Lynally (see Lanigan, Keel. Hist. 
II. 304). 

Another place equally celebrated, was Lann- 
leire or Land-leri [Book of Leinster], i. e. the 
the church of austerity, which until recently was 
supposed to be the old church of Lynn, on the 
east side of Lough Ennel in Westmeath. But 
Dr. Reeves has clearly identified it with Dunleer 
in Louth, the word dun being substituted for lann, 
while the latter part of the name has been pre- 
served with little change (see Dr. Todd in " Wars 
of GGr.," introd., p. xl.). The old church of Lynn, 
which gives name to a parish in Westmeath, 
though it is not the Lann-leire of history, derives 
its name from this word lann. 

The word appears in other, and more correct 
forms in Landmore, i. e. great church, in London- 
derry ; Landahussy or Lanny hussy, O'Hussy's 
house or church, in Tyrone; Lanaglug in the 
same county, Lann-na-gclog, the church of the 
bells. In Landbrock in Fermanagh, Lann appears 
to mean simply habitation, the name being applied 
to a badger warren Lann-broc, house of badgers. 
Belan in Kildare, is called by the annalists Bioth- 
lann, which name it may have derived from a 
house of hospitality ; bioth, life for existence ; 
Biothlann, refection house ; similar in formation 
to ithlann corn house (see pp. 321-2). 

Glenavy in Antrim is another example of the 
use of this word. The g is a modern addition ; 
and Dr. Reeves has remarked, that the earliest 
authority he finds for its insertion is a Visitation 
Book of 1661. In the taxation of 1306, it is 
called Lenneioy, and in other early English docu- 
ments, Lenavy, Lynavy, &c. (Reeves Eccl. Ant., 

324 Artificial Structures- [PART in. 

p. 47), which very well represent the pronounci- 
ation of the original Irish name, Lann-abhaich 
[Lanavy], as given in the Calendar, signifying 
the church of the dwarf. Colgan states that when 
St. Patrick had built the church there, he left it 
in charge of his disciple Daniel, who from hia 
low stature, was called dbhac [avak or ouk], i. e., 
dwarf, and that from this circumstance the church 
got its name. It is worthy of remark here, that 
other places have got names from a like circum- 
stance ; for example, Cappanouk in the parish of 
Abington, Limerick, represents the Irish Ceapach- 
an-abhaich the garden plot of the dwarf. 

Baisleac. This is a loan word, little changed, 
from the Latin basilica, and bears the same mean- 
ing, viz., a church ; it is of long standing in 
Irish, being found in very ancient MSS., and was 
no doubt brought in, like the preceding terms, 
by the first Christian teachers. I am aware oi 
only two places in Ireland deriving their names 
from this word. One is Baslick, an old church 
giving name to a parish in Roscommon, which ia 
often mentioned by the Four Masters, and which, 
in the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, is called 
Baisleac-mor, great church. The other place has 
for its name the diminutive Baslickane, and is a 
townland in the parish of Kilcrohane, Kerry. 

Disert. The word disert is borrowed from the 
Latin desertum, and retains its original meaning 
in Irish, viz., a desert, wilderness, or sequestered 
place. It is used very often in Irish writings ; 
as for example, in the Battle of Moyrath, p. 1 : 
" Ocus disert mbec aigi ann sin," and he (the 
saint) had a little desert (hermitage) there. It is 
generally used in an ecclesiastical sense to denote 
a hermitage, such secluded spots as the early 
Irish saints loved to select for their little dwell 

CFIAP. ii. J Ecdezinstwal Edifices. 325 

ings ; and it was afterwards applied to churches 
erected in those places. 

Its most usual modern forms are Desert, Disert, 
Dysart, and Dysert, which are the names of a 
considerable number of parishes and townlands 
throughout Ireland, except only in the Connaught 
counties (where, however, the word is found in 
other forms). Desertmartin is the name of a vil- 
lage in Londonderry, and Desertserges that of a 
parish in Cork, the former signifying Martin's, 
and the latter, Sergus's hermitage ; Killadysert 
in Clare means the church of the desert or her- 

The word disert takes various corrupt forms in 
the mouths of the peasantry, both in Irish and 
English ; such as ister, ester, tirs, tristle, &c. A 
good example of one of these corruptions is found 
in Estersnow, the name of a townland and parish 
in Roscommon. The Four Masters call it Disert- 
Nuadhan [Nooan], St. Nuadha's hermitage ; but 
the people now call it in Irish, Tirs-Nuadhan ; 
while in an Inquisition of Elizabeth, it is called 
in one place Issetnowne, and in another place, 
Issertnowne, which stand as intermediate forms 
between the ancient and present names. Though 
written Estersnow on the Ordnance maps it is 
really called by the people, when speaking 
English, Eastersnow, which form was evidently 
evolved under the corrupting influence noticed at 
page 38, supra, (IX). The patron saint is pro- 
bably the Nuadha [Nooa] con.memorated in 
O'Clery's Calendar at the 3rd of October ; but he 
is now forgotten there, though his holy well, 
Tobernooan, is still to be seen, and retains his 
name (see O'Donovan's Four Masters, Vol. III., 
p. 546, notejo). 

This root word assumes another form in Tsert- 

326 Artificial Structures. ["PATCT in. 

kelly, an ancient church giving name to a parish 
in Galway, mentioned by the Four Masters, who 
call it Disert- Cheallaigh, Ceallach's or Kelly's 
hermitage ; and in Isertkieran, a parish in Tip- 
perary, which no doubt received its name from St. 
Ciaran of Ossory (see p. 149, supra}. It is still 
further altered in Ishartmon, a parish in Wex- 
ford, St. Munna's desert, i. e. St. Munna of Tagh- 
mon(p. 303), 

In some of the Leinster counties there are 
several places whose names have been changed by 
the substitution of the modern word castle for the 
ancient disert ; this may be accounted for natur- 
ally enough in individual cases, by the fact that a 
castle was erected on or near the site of the old 
hermitage. Castledermot in Kildare, whose an- 
cient importance is still attested by its round tower 
and crosses, is well known by the name of Disert 
Diarmada ; where Diarmad, son of Aedh Hoin, 
king of Ulidia, founded a monastery about A.D. 
800. The present form of the name was, no 
doubt, derived from the castle built there by 
Walter de Kiddlesford in the time of Strongbow. 

The Irish name of Castledillon in Kildare, is 
D-isert-Ialiidhan [Disertillan], i. e. lolladhan's 
hermitage. Castlekeeran near Oldcastle in Meath, 
is another example. The ancient name of this 
place, as appears by the Four Masters, A.D. 868, 
was Bealachduin [Ballaghdoon], the road of the dun 
or fort ; but after the time of St. Ciaran the Pious, 
who founded a monastery there in the eighth cen- 
tury, and died in the year 770, it was generally 
called in the annals, Disert-Chiarain [Disert- 
Kieran], St. Kieran's hermitage. The castle that 
originated the present form of the name belonged, 
as some think, to the Staffords, but according to 
others, to the Plunkets. 

CHAP. ii. J Ecclesiastical Edifices. 327 

Cros. Cros signifies a cross, and is borrowed 
from the the Latin crux ; it occurs in our earliest 
writings ; and is found in some very old inscrip- 
tions on crosses. It is scarcely necessary to state 
that, from the time of the introduction of Chris- 
tianity into this country, crosses were erected in 
connection with churches and other religious 
foundations; they were at first simple and un- 
adorned, but became gradually more elegant in 
design, and more elaborate in ornamentation; and 
we have yet remaining, in many parts of the 
country, crosses of the most beautiful workman- 
ship, lasting memorials of the piety and artistic 
skill of our forefathers. 

These monuments were not confined to religious 
buildings. In Adanman's Life of St. Columba, it 
is related that on a certain occasion, a man whom 
the saint was coming to meet, suddenly fell down 
and expired. " Hence, on that spot, before the 
entrance to the kiln, a cross was erected, and 
another where the saint stopped, which is seen to 
Jhis day " (Lib. I., Cap. 45) ; on which Dr. 
Reeves remarks : " It was usual among the Irish 
to mark with a cross the spot where any providen- 
tial visitation took place." This very general 
custom is attested not only by history, but also 
by the great number of places that have taken 
their names from crosses. 

The word Cross itself is the name of about 
thirty townlands, and it forms the first syllable 
of about 150 others ; there are besides numerous 
names in which it assumes other forms, or in which 
it occurs in the termination. Some of these 
places probably took their names from cross-roads, 
and in others the word is used adjectively, tc 
signify a transverse position ; but these are excep- 

328 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

tions, and tlie greater number commemorate the 
erection of crosses. 

A cross must have formerly stood near the old 
parish church of Crosserlough in Cavan, the 
Irish name being Cros-air-loch, the cross on or by 
the lake. Crossmolina in Mayo is called by the 
Four Masters, Cros-ui-Mhaeilfhina [Crossywee- 
leena], O'Mulleeny's cross ; the family of O'Mael- 
f hina, whose descendants of the present day gener- 
ally call themselves Mullany, had their seat here, 
and were chiefs of the surrounding district. There 
are some townlands and a village in Down, called 
Crossgar, short cross ; Crossfarnoge, the name of 
a prominent cape near Carnsore point, signifies 
the cross of the alder tree ; and Gortna gross, the 
name of several places in the northern and 
southern counties, is the field of the crosses Gort- 
na-gcros ; in this name, and in Ardnagross height 
of the crosses the c is eclipsed by g (p. 22). The 
parish of Aghacross (the ford of the cross), near 
Kildorrery in Cork, took its name, no doubt, from 
a cross in connection with St. Molaga's establish- 
ment (see p. 152), erected to mark a ford on the 
Funcheon. But Aghacross elsewhere is the field 
(achadli) of the cross. There are several places 
called Crossan, Crossane, and Crossoge, all which 
signify little cross. 

The oblique form crois (see p. 34, supra] is pro- 
nounced crush, and has given the name Crosh to 
two townlands in Tyrone ; to Crushybracken in 
Antrim, O'Bracken's cross ; and to several other 
places. "We find the genitive in Ardnacrusha, the 
name of a village near Limerick city, and of a 
townland in Cork, Ard-na-croise, the height of tt^ 
cross ; the diminutive, Crusheen, little cross, is the 
name of a small town in Clare ; and there are town- 
lands in Gal way called Crosheen and Crusheeny, 

CHAP, in.] Monuments, Graves, and Cemeteries. 329 

the last meaning little crosses. Crossaire 
[crussera], which is a derivative from cros, is 
applied in the south of Ireland to cross-roads, and 
hence we have Crossery and Crussera, two town- 
lands in Waterford, the latter near Dungarvan. 
For the form crock, see page 220. 



BEFORE the introduction of Christianity, different 
modes of sepulture were practised in Ireland. In 
very early ages it was usual to hum the hody, and 
place the ashes in an urn, which was deposited in 
the grave. It seems very extraordinary that all 
memory of this custom should he lost to both his- 
tory and tradition ; for I am not aware that there 
is any mention of the burning of bodies in any 
even the oldest of our native writings. But that 
the custom was very general we have the best 
possible proof ; for in every part of Ireland, ciner- 
ary urns, containing ashes and burned bones, have 
been found, in the various kinds of pagan sepul- 

Occasionally the bodies of kings and chieftains 
were buried in a standing posture, arrayed in 
full battle costume, with the face turned towards 
the territories of their enemies. Of this custom 
we have several very curious historical records. 
In the Leabhar na hUidhre it is related that 
King Leaghaire [Leary] (see pp. 139, 140, supra) 

330 Artificial Structures. [v AUT in. 

was killed " by the sun and wind " in a war 
against the Lagenians ; " and his body was after- 
wards brought from the south, and interred, with 
his arms of valour, in the south-east of the ex- 
ternal rampart of the royal Rath Laeghaire at 
Temur (Tara), with the face turned southwards 
upon the Lagenians [as it were] fighting with 
them, for he was the enemy of the Lagenians in 
his lifetime" (Petrie's "Antiquities of Tara Hill," 
p. 155). The same circumstance is related in a 
still older authority, with some additional interest- 
ing details the " Annotations of Tirechan," in 
the Book of Armagh. King Leaghaire says : 
" For Neel, my father (i. e. Niall of the Nine 
Hostages), did not permit me to believe [in the 
teaching of St. Patrick], but that I should be in- 
terred in the top of Temur, like men standing up 
in war. For the pagans are accustomed to be 
buried armed, with their weapons ready, face to 
face [in which manner they remain] to the day of 
Erdaihe, among the magi, i. e. the day of judg- 
ment of the Lord" (Ibid. p. 146). 

The pagan Irish believed that, while the body 
of their king remained in this position, it exercised 
a malign influence on their enemies, who were 
thereby always defeated in battle. Thus, in the 
Life of St. Kellach, it is stated, that his father, 
Owen Bel, great grandson of Dathi, and king of 
Connaught (see pp. 104 and 139, supra] was killed 
in the battle of Sligo, fought against the Ulster- 
men. And before his death he told his people 
" to bury him with his red javelin in his hand in 
the grave. ' Place my face towards the north, on 
the side of the hill by which the northerns pass 
when flying before the army of Connaught; let 
my grave face them, and place myself in it after 
this manner ' And this order was strictly com- 

CHAP. TTI.] Monuments, Graves, and Cemeteries. 331 

plied with ; and in every place where the Clanna 
Neill and the Connacians met in conflict, the 
Clanna Neill and the Northerns were routed, being 
panic-stricken by the countenances of their foes ; 
so that the Clanna Neill and the people of the 
north of Ireland, therefore resolved to come with a 
numerous host to Rath-G'bhFiachrach [Rathovee- 
ragh] and raise [the body of] Owen from the 
grave, and carry his remains northwards across 
to Sligo. This was done, and the body was 
buried at the other side [of the river], at Aenacli 
Locha Gile, with the mouth down, that it might 
not be the means of causing them to fly before 
the Connacians " (Translated by O'Donovan in 
"Hy Fiachrach," p. 472). 

It is very curious that, in some parts of the 
country, the people still retain a dim traditional 
memory of this mode of sepulture, and of the 
superstition connected with it. There is a place 
in the parish of Errigal in Londonderry, called 
Slaghtaverty, but it ought to have been called 
Laghtaverty, the laght or sepulchral monument of 
a man named Abhartach \_Avartagh~], who was, it 
seems, a dwarf. This dwarf was a magician, and a 
dreadful tyrant, and after having perpetrated great 
cruelties on the people he was at last vanquished 
and slain by a neighbouring chieftain ; some say by 
Finn Mac Cumhail. He was buried in a standing 
posture, but the very next day he appeared in his 
old haunts, more cruel and vigorous than ever. 
And the chief slew him a second time and buried 
him as before, but again he escaped from the 
grave, and spread terror through the whole 
country. The chief then consulted a druid, and 
according to his directions, he slew the dwarf a 
third time, and buried him in the same place, with 
his head downwards; which subdued his magical 

332 Artificial Structures. [ PART ITI - 

power, so that he never again appeared on the 
earth. The laght raised over the dwarf is still 
there, and you may hear the legend with much 
detail from the natives of the place, one of whom 
told it to me. 

The modes of forming receptacles for the re- 
mains, and the monuments erected over them, 
were exceedingly various. It was usual in this 
country, as in many others, to pile a great heap of 
stones, usually called a earn, over the grave of 
any person of note ; and where stones were not 
abundant, clay was used for the same purpose. 
This custom is mentioned in many of our ancient 
writings, and I might quote several passages in 
illustration, but I shall content myself with one 
from Adamnan (7th cent.) : "The old man [Art- 
brananus] believed, and was baptised, and when 
the sacrament was administered he died in the 
same spot [on the shore of the isle of Skye], 
according to the prediction of the saint [i. e. of 
St. Columba] ; and his companions buried bina 
there ; raising a heap of stones over his grave " 
(Vit. Col. I., 33). 

The same custom exists to some extent at the 
present day, for in many parts of Ireland, they 
pile up a laght or earn over the spot where any 
person has come to an untimely death ; and every 
passer-by is expected to add a stone to the heap. 
The tourist who ascends Mangerton mountain 
near Killarney, may see a earn of this kind near 
the Devil's Punch Bowl, where a shepherd was 
found dead some years ago. 

Our pagan ancestors had a particular fancy for 
elevated situations as their final resting-place; and 
accordingly we find that great numbers of moun- 
tains through the country have one or more of 
these earns on their summit, under each of which 

CHAP. ni.J Monuments, Graves, and Cemeteries. 333 

sleeps some person important in bis day. They 
are sometimes very large, and form conspicuous 
objects wben viewed from the neighbouring 

Many mountains through every part of the 
country take their names from these earns, the 
name of the monument gradually extending itself 
to the hill. Carnlea, a high hill north of Gush en - 
dall in Antrim, is an example, its Irish name being 
Cam- Hath, grey earn ; the great pile on the top of 
Carn Clanhugh in Longford (the earn of Clan- 
hugh or Hugh's sons, a sept of the O'Farrells) is 
visible for many miles over the level country round 
the mountain ; and Carroii hill near Charleville, 
county Cork, takes its name from a vast pile of 
stones on its summit. 

The word earn forms the whole or the beginning 
of the names of about 300 townlands, in every one 
of which a remarkable earn must have existed, 
besides many others, of whose names it forms the 
middle or end ; and there are innumerable monu- 
ments of this kind all through the country whicli 
have not given names to townlands. The place 
called Cam, in the parish of Conry, near the hiB 
of Ushnagh in Westmeath, is the ancient Carn 
Fiachach (Four M.), Fiacha's monument, which 
was erected to commemorate Fiacha, son of Niall 
of the Nine Hostages (see p. 139, supra), the 
ancestor of the Mageoghegans. It is very pro- 
bable that the persons who are commemorated in 
such names as the following, are those over whom 
the earns were originally erected. 

Carnteel, now a village and parish in Tyrone, 
is called by the Four Masters Carn-tSiadhail, 
Siadhal's or Shiel's monument. There is a re- 
markable mountain, with a earn on its summit, 
called Carn Tierna. near Rathcormack in the 

334 Artificial Structures. [PAKT in 

county Cork. According to O'Curry (Lectures, p. 
267), Tighernach [Tierna] Tetbannach king of 
Munster in the time of Conor mac Nessa, in the 
first century, was buried in this, whence it was 
called Cam Tighernaigh, Tighernach's earn ; and 
the sound of the old name is preserved in the 
modern Cam Tierna. Carmavy (Grange) in the 
parish of Killead, Antrim, Maev's earn ; Carn- 
kenny near Ardstraw in Tyrone, the earn of 
Cainnech or Kenny ; Carnew in Wicklow pro- 
bably contains the same personal name as Rath- 
new Carn-Naoi, Naoi's earn ; Carnacally, the 
name of several places, the monument of the cal- 
liach or hag. 

It is certain that the following places have lost 
their original names : Carndonagh in Innish- 
owen, which got the latter part of its name merely 
because the old monument was situated in the 
parish of Donagh ; there are some places in Antrim 
and Tyrone called Carnagat, the earn of the cats, 
from having been resorts of wild cats ; and a 
similar remark applies to Carnalughoge near 
Louth, the earn of the mice. Carney in Sligo is 
not formed from earn ; it is really a family name, 
the full designation being Farran-O'Carney, 
0' Carney's land. 

Other modifications of this word are seen in 
Carron, the name of several townlands in Water- 
ford, Tipperary, and Limerick ; and in Carrona- 
davderg, near Ardrnore in Waterford, the monu- 
ment of the red ox, a singular name, no doubt 
connected with some legend ; Carnane and Car- 
naun, little earn, are very often met with ; and the 
form Kernan is the name of a townland near 
Armagh, and of another in the county Down. 

The mounds or tumuli of earth or stones, raised 
over a grave, were sometimes designated by the 

CHAP, in.] Monuments, Graves, and Cemeteries 335 

word tit aim [loom]. Like the cognate Latin word 
tumulus, it was primarily applied to a hillock or 
dyke, and in a secondary sense to a monumental 
mound or tomb. These mounds, which were either 
of earth or stones, are still found in all kinds of 
situations, and sometimes they are exceedingly 
large. It is often not easy to distinguish them 
from the duns or residences ; but it is probable 
that those mounds that have no appearance of 
circumvallations are generally sepulchral. They 
have given names to a great many places in every 
part of Ireland, in numbers of which the old 
tumuli still remain. There are about a dozen 
places, chiefly in the north, called Toome, the most 
remarkable of which is that on the Bann, between 
Lough Neagh and Lough Beg, which gives name 
to the two adjacent baronies. There must have 
been formerly at this place both a sandbank ford 
across the river, and a sepulchral mound near it, 
for in the Tripartite Life it is called Fearsat Tuama, 
the farset or ford of the tumulus ; but in the 
annals it is generally called Tuaim. 

Tomgraney in Clare is often mentioned by the 
annalists, who call it Tuaim Grein8, the tomb of 
Grian, a woman's name. The traditions of the 
place still preserve the memory of the Lady Grian, 
but the people now call her Gillagrauey Gue- 
Greine, the brightness of the sun. They say that 
she was drowned in Lough Graney ; that her body 
was found in the river Graney at a place called 
Derrygraney ; and that she was buried at Tom- 
graney. All these places retain her name, and 
her monument is still in existence near the village. 
Grian, which is the Irish word for the sun, and is 
of the feminine gender, was formerly very usual 
in Ireland as a woman's name. There is a place 
called Carugranny near the town of Antrim, where 

336 Artificial Structures. ^PART lu - 

another lady named Grian must have been buried 
Her monument also remains : " It consists of ten 
large slabs raised on side supporters, like a series of 
cromlechs, forming steps commencing with the 
lowest at the north east and ascending gradually 
for the length of forty feet towards the south 
west" (Reeves' s Eccl. Ant., p. 66). The pile is 
called Granny's Grave, which is a translation of 
Carn-Grein#(see also Knockgrean in 2nd volume). 

The parish of Tomfinlough in Clare took its 
name from an old church by a lake near Sixmile- 
bridge, which is several times mentioned by the 
Four Masters under the name of Tuaim-Fionnlocha, 
the tumulus of the bright lake. Toomona in the 
parish of Ogulla, same county, where are still to 
be seen the ruins of a remarkable old monastery, 
is called in the annals Tuaim-mona, the tomb of 
the bog. Toomy vara in Tipperary, exactly repre 
sents the sound of the Irish Tuaim-ui-Mhcad]tm_ 
O'Mara's tomb ; and Tomdeely, a townland giving 
name to a parish in Limerick, is probably the 
tumulus of or by the (river) Deel. 

On the summit of Tomies mountain, which 
rises over the lower lake of Killarney, there are 
two sepulchral heaps of stones, not far from one 
another ; hence the Irish name Tuamaidhe [Toomy], 
i. e. monumental mounds ; and the present name, 
which has extended to three townlands, has 
been formed by the addition of the English after 
the Irish plural (see page 32). The Irish name 
of the parish of Tumna in Roscommon is Tuaim- 
mna (Four Mast.), the tumulus of the woman (bean, 
a woman, gen. mna). Tooman and Toomog, little 
tombs, are the names of several townlands in dif- 
ferent counties. 

Dumha [dooa] is another word for a sepulchral 
mound r tumulus ; it is very often used in Irish 

CHAP, in.] Monuments, Graves, and Cemeteries. 337 

writings, and we frequently find it recorded that 
the bodies of the slain were buried in a dumha. . 
These mounds have given names to numerous 
places, but being commonly made of earth, they 
have themselves in many cases disappeared. Moy- 
dow, a parish in Longford, which gives name ta 
a barony, is called by the Four Masters, Magh- 
dum/ta [Moy-dooa], the plain of the burial mound ; 
and there is a townland of the same name in Ros- 

In modern names it is not easy to separate this 
word from dub/i, black, and dumhach, a sand-bank ; 
but the following names may be referred to it. 
Dooey, which is the name of several townlands in 
Ulster, is no doubt generally one of its modern 
forms, though, when that name occurs on the coast, 
it is more likely to be from dumhach. Knockadoo, 
the hill of the mound, is the name of some town- 
lands in Roscommon, Sligo, and Londonderry ; 
and there are several places called Corradoo, Cor- 
radooa, and Corradooey, the round- hill of the 

A leacht [laght] is a sepulchre or monument, 
cognate with Lat. lectus and Greek lechos ; for in 
many languages a grave is called a bed (see leaba, 
further on) ; Goth, liga ; Eng. lie, lay ; Manx, 
Ihiaght. It is often applied, like earn, to a monu- 
mental heap of stones : in Cormac's Glossary it is 
explained lighedh mairbh, the grave of a dead 
(person) . 

There are several places in different parts of the 
country called Laght, which is its most correct 
anglicised form ; Laghta, monuments, is the name 
of some townlands in Mayo and Leitrim, and we 
find Laghtagalla, white sepulchres, near Thurles. 
Laghtane, little laght, is a place in the parish of 
KilleenagarrifP, Limerick. 

VOL. i. 23 

338 Artificial Structures. PAKT ITT. 

In the north of Ireland, the guttural is univer- 
sally suppressed, and the word is pronounced kit 
or let ; as we find in Latt, the name of a town- 
land in Armagh, and of another in Cavan; 
Derlett in Armagh, the oak-wood of the grave 
(Doire-leachta) ; Letfern in Tyrone, the laglit of 
the J 'earns or alder- trees ; and Corlat, the name of 
several places in the Ulster counties, the round-hill 
of the sepulchres. 

The word uladh [ulla] originally meant a tomb 
or earn, as the following passages will show : 
" oc denam uluidh cumdachta imatflaithj" making 
a protecting tomh over thy chief (O'Donovan, 
App. to O'Reilly's Diet, voce uladh). In the Leabh- 
ar na hUidhre, it is related that Caeilte 
[Keeltha], Finn mac Cumhal's foster son, slew 
Fothadh Airgtheach, monarch of Ireland, in 
the battle of Ollarba (Larne Water), A. D. 285. 
Caeilte speaks : " The uluidh of Fothadh Airg- 
theach will be found a short distance to the east 
of it. There is a chest of stone about him in the 
earth ; there are his two rings of silver, and his 
two bunne doat [bracelets ?] and his torque of silver 
on his chest ; and there is a pillar-stone at his 
earn ; and an ogum is [inscribed] on the end of 
the pillar- stone which is in the earth ; and what 
is on it is, * Eochaidh Airgtheach here ' " (Petrie, 
E. Towers, p. 108). 

The word is now, however, and has been for a 
long time used to denote a penitential station, or 
a stone altar erected as a place of devotion : a 
very natural extension of meaning, as the tombs 
of saints were so very generally used as places 
of devotion by the faithful. It was used in this 
sense at an early period, for in the " Battle of 
Moyrath," it is said that " Domhnall never went 
away from a cross without bowing, nor from an 

CHAP, ITT.] Monuments, Graves, and Cemeteries. 339 

ulaidh without turning round, nor from an altar 
without praying" (p. 298). On which O 'Dono- 
van remarks : " Uhiidh, a word which often 
occurs in ancient MSS., is still understood in the 
west of Ireland to denote a penitential station at 
which pilgrims pray, and perform rounds on their 
knees." These little altar tombs have given names 
to places all over Ireland, in many of which, 
especially in the west and south, they may still be 

Among several places in Cork, we have Glenn a- 
hulla near Kildorrery, and Kilnahulla in the 
parish of Kilmeen, the glen and the church of 
the altar tomb ; the latter name being the same as 
Killulla in Clare. In Ulusker near Castletown 
Bearhaven, the word seems to be used in its 
primary sense, as the name is understood to mean 
Oscar's earn ( Uladh- Oscuir) ; and in this sense 
We must no doubt understand it in Tullyullagh 
near Enniskillen, the hill of the tombs. Knockan- 
ully in Antrim signifies the hill of the tomb ; 
and Tomnahulla in Galway, would be written in 
Irish, Tuaim-na-hulaidh, the mound of the altar 
tomb. We have the diminutive Ullauns near 
Killarney, and Ullanes near Macroom in Cork, 
both signifying little stone altars. 

" A cromlech, when perfect, consists of three 
or more stones unhewn, and generally so placed 
as to form a small enclosure. Over ihese a large 
[flat] stone is laid, the whole forming a kind of 
rude chamber. The position of the table or cover- 
ing stone, is generally sloping ; but its degree of 
inclination does not appear to have been regulated 
by any design " (Wakeman's Handbook of Irish 
Antiquities, p. 7). They are very numerous in 
all parts of Ireland, and various theories have 
been advanced to account for their origin; of 

340 Artificial Structures. PART in. 

which the most common is that they were "Druids' 
altars," and used for offering sacrifices. It is 
now, however, well known that they are tombs, 
which is proved by the fact that under many of 
them have been found cinerary urns, calcined 
bones, and sometimes entire skeletons. The 
popular name of " Giants' graves," which is ap- 
plied to them in many parts of the country, pre- 
serves, with sufficient correctness, the memory of 
their original purpose. They have other forms 
besides that described ; sometimes they are very 
large, consisting of a chamber thirty or forty feet 
long, covered by a series of flags laid horizontally, 
like Carngranny (p. 335) ; and not unfrequently 
the chamber is in the form of a cross. 

The word cromlech crom-kac, sloping stone 
(crom, bending, sloping) is believed not to be 
originally Irish ; but to have been in late years 
introduced from Wales, where it is used merely 
as an antiquarian term. That it is not an old 
Irish word is proved by the fact, that it is not 
used in the formation of any of our local names, 
It has none of the marks of a native term, for it 
is not found in our old writings, and like the 
expression " Druids' altars " it is quite unknown 
to the Irish- speaking peasantry. 

These sepulchres are sometimes called leaba or 
leabmdh, old Irish lebaid [labba, labbyj, Manx 
Ihiabbee ; the word literally signifies a bed, but it 
is applied in a secondary sense to a grave, both in 
the present spoken language and in old writings. 
For example, in the ancient authority cited by 
Petrie (R. Towers, p. 350), it is stated that the 
great poet Rumann, who died in the year 747 at 
Rahan in King's County, " was buried in the 
same ieabaidh with Ua Suanaigh, for his great 
honour with God and man." There is a fine sepul- 

CHAP, in.] Monuments, Graves, and Cemeteries. 341 

chral monument of this kind, hitherto unnoticed, 
in a mountain glen over Mount Russell near 
Charleville, on the borders of the counties of 
Limerick and Cork, which the peasantry call 
Labba-Iscur, Oscur's grave. O'Brien (Diet, voce 
Leaba) says, " Leaba is the name of several places 
in Ireland, which are by the common people called 
Leabthacha-na-bhfeinne [Labbaha-na-veana], the 
monuments of the Fenii or old Irish champions ;" 
and it may be remarked that Oscur was one of the 
most renowned of these, being the son of Oisin, 
the son of Finn mac Cumhal (see p. 91, supra). 

Labby, which is one of the modern forms of 
this term, is the name of a townland in London- 
derry. Sometimes the word is followed by a 
personal name, which is probably that of the in- 
dividual buried in the monument ; as in Labby- 
eslin near Mohill in Leitrim, the tomb of Eslin ; 
Labasheeda in Clare, Sioda or Sheedy's grave. 
Sioda is the common Irish word for silk ; and 
accordingly many families, whose real ancestral 
name is Sheedy, now call themselves Silk. In 
case of Labasheeda, the inhabitants believe that 
it was so called from the beautiful smooth strand 
in the little bay Leaba- sioda, silken bed, like the 
" Velvet strand " near Malahide. Perhaps they 
are right. 

Cromlechs are called in many parts of the 
country Leaba- Dhiarmada-agus- Grainne, the bed 
of Diarmaid and Grainne ; and this name is con- 
nected with the well-known legend, that Diarmait 
O'Duibhne [Dermat O'Deena], eloped with 
Grainne, the daughter of king Cormac mac Art, 
and Finn mac CumhaiPs betrothed spouse. The 
pair eluded Finn's pursuit for a year and a day, 
sleeping in a different place each night, under a 
leaba erected by Diarmaid after his day's journey ; 

342 Artificial Structures. [J-ART lit. 

and according to the legend there were just 366 
of them in Ireland. But this legend is a late in- 
vention, and evidently took its rise from the word 
leabaidh, which was understood in its literal sense 
of a bed. The fable has, however, given origin 
to the name of Labbadermody, Diarmait's bed, 
a townland in the parish of Clondrohid in Cork ; 
and to the term Labbacallee Leaba-caillighe, hag's 
bed sometimes applied to these monuments. 

In some parts of Ulster a cromlech is called 
ctoch-togbhala [clogh-togla], i. e. raised or lifted 
stone, in reference to the covering flag; from 
which Clochtogle near Enniskillen, and Cloghogle 
(t aspirated and omitted p. 21), two townlands 
in Tyrone, have their name. There is a hill near 
Downpatrick called Slieve-na- griddle, the moun- 
tain of the griddle ; the griddle is a cromlech on 
the top of the hill ; but the name is half English 
and very modern. It may be remarked that 
cromlechs are sometimes called " griddles " in 
other places ; thus Grabriel Beranger, who made 
a tour through Ireland in the last century, men- 
tions one situated in a bog near Easky in Sligo, 
which was usually called " Finn Mac Cool's 

" In many parts of Ireland, and particularly 
in districts where the stone circles occur, may be 
seen huge blocks of stone, which evidently owe 
their upright position, not to accident, but to the 
design and labour of an ancient people. They 
are called by the native Irish gallauns or leaganns, 
and in character they are precisely similar to the 
hoar-stones of England, the hare-stanes of Scotland, 
and maen-gwyr of Wales. Many theories have 
been promulgated relative to their origin. They 
are supposed to have been idol stones to have 
been stones of memorial to have been erected as 

CHAP, in.] Monuments, Graves, and Cemeteries. 343 

landmarks, boundaries, &c. and, lastly, to be 
monumental stones " (Wakeman's " Handbook of 
Irish Antiquities," p. 17). We know that the 
erection of pillar-stones as sepulchral monuments 
is often recorded in ancient Irish authorities, one 
example of which will be found in the passage 
quoted from Leabhar na hllidhre at page 338 ; 
but it is probable that some were erected for 
other purposes. 

There are several words in Irish to signify a 
pillar- stone, one of which is coirthe or cairthe 
[corha, carha]. It is used in every part of Ire- 
land, and has given names under various forms to 
many different places, in several of which the old 
pillar-stones are yet standing. The beautiful 
valley and lake of Glencar, on the borders of 
Leitrim and Sligo, is called in Irish, Gleann-a- 
chairthe [Glenacarha], the glen of the pillar-stone ; 
but its ancient name, as used by the Four Masters, 
was Cairthe-Muilcheann [carha-Mulkan]. Carha 
and Carra, the names of several townlands in 
Ulster and Connaught, exhibit the word in its 
simple anglicised forms, There is a place in the 
parish of Clonfert, Cork, called Knockahorrea, 
which represents the Irish Cnoc-d-chairthe, the 
hill of the pillar- stone ; and in Louth we find 
Drumnacarra, which has nearly the same meaning. 

These stones are also, as Mr. Wakeman remarks, 
called gallautis and kaganns. The Irish form of 
the first is gattdn, which is sometimes corrupted 
in the modern language to dalldn ; it has given 
name to Gallan near Ardstraw in Tyrone ; and 
to Gallane and Gallanes in Cork. There are 
several low hills in Ulster, which from a pillar- 
stone standing on the top, were called Drumgallan, 
and some of them have given names to townlands. 
Aghagallon, the field of the gallan, is the name 
of a townland in Tyrone, and of a parish in An- 

344 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

trim ; Knockagallane (hill) is the name of two 
townlands in Cork, and there is a parish near 
Mitchelstown in the same county, called Kilgul- 
lane, the church of the pillar-stone. 

The word gall, of which gallan is a diminutive, 
was applied to standing- stones, according to Cor- 
mac mac Cullenan (see p. 95, supra*), because they 
were first erected in Ireland by the Gauls. This 
word is also used in the formation of names ; as 
in Cangullia, a place near Castleisland in Kerry, 
the Irish name of which is Ceann-gailk, the head 
or hill of the standing- stone. The adjective 
gallach, meaning a place abounding in standing- 
stones, or large stones or rocks, has given name 
to several places now called Gallagh, scattered 
through all the provinces except Munster ; and 
Gallow, the name of a parish in Meath, is another 
form of the same word. 

The other term Itagdn [leegaun] is a diminu- 
tive of Hag, which will be noticed farther on; and 
in its application to a standing-stone, it is still 
more common than gallan. Legan, Legane, Le- 
gaun, and Leegane, all different anglicised forms, 
are the names of several places in different parts 
of the country ; and the English plural, Liggins 
(pillar-stones) is found in Tyrone. Ballylegan, 
the town of the standing stone, is the name of a 
place near Caher in Tipperary, and of another 
near Glanworth in Cork , there is a place called 
Tooraleagan (Toor, a bleach-green) near Bally- 
landers in Limerick ; and Knockalegan, the hill 
of the pillar- stone, is the name of naif a dozen 
townlands in Ulster and Munster. 

Pert, plural ferta, signifies a grave or trench. 
The old name of Slane on the Boyne, was Ferta- 
fer-Feic, and the account given by Colgan (Trias 
Thaura., p. 20) of the origin of this name, brings 

CHAP, in.] Monuments, Graves, and Cemeteries. 845 

out very clearly the meaning of ferta : "There 
is a place on the north margin of the river Boyne, 
now called Slaine; [but anciently] it was called 
Ferta-fer-Feic, i. e. the trenches or sepulchres of 
the men of Fiac, because the servants of a certain 
chieftain named Fiac, dug deep trenches there, to 
inter the bodies of the slain." 

In the Book of Armagh there is an interesting 
account by Tirechan, of the burial in the ferta, of 
Laeghaire's three daughters (see p. 179, supra), 
who had been converted by St. Patrick : " And 
the days of mourning for the king's daughters 
were accomplished, and they buried them near the 
ivell Clebach ; and they made a circular ditch 
like to a ferta ; because so the Scotic people and 
gentiles were used to do, but with us it is called 
Religuies (Irish Releg], i. e. the remains of the 
virgins" (Todd's Life of St. Patrick, p. 455). 
Ferta was originally a pagan term, as the above 
passage very clearly shows, but like cluain and 
other words, it was often adopted by the early 
Irish saints (see Reeves' s "Ancient Churches of 
Armagh," p. 47). 

The names Farta, Ferta, and Fartha (i. e. 
graves), each of which is applied to a townland, 
exhibit the plural in its simple form ; with the 
addition of ach to the singular, we have Fertagh 
and Fartagh, i. e. a place of graves, which are 
names of frequent occurrence. Fertagh near 
Johnstown in Kilkenny is called by the Four 
Masters Fcrta-na-gcaerach, the graves of the sheep ; 
and O'Donovan states that according to tradition, 
it was so called because the carcases of a great 
number of sheep which died of a distemper, were 
buried there. (Four Masters, Vol. I., p. 498). 
In the parish of Magheross, Monaghan, there is a 
townland called Nafarty, i. e. the graves, the Irish 

346 Artificial Structures. PART in. 

article na, forming part of the name. The parish 
of Moyarta in Clare which gives name to a barony, 
is called in Irish Hayh-flierta (fh silent, see p. 20), 
the plain of the grave. 

Reilig, old Irish relcc, means a cemetery or 
graveyard ; it is the Latin reliquice, and was bor- 
rowed very early, for it occurs in the Zeuss MSS. 
The most celebrated place in Ireland with this 
name was Reilig-na-riogh, or " the burial-place of 
the kings," at the royal palace of Cruachan in 
Connaught, one of the ancient regal cemeteries. 
There are only a few places in Ireland taking 
their names from this term. Relick is the name 
of two townlands in "Westmeath, and there is a 
graveyard in the parish of Carragh near Naas, 
county Kildare, called The Relick, i. e. the ceme- 
tery. The parish of Relickmurry [and Athassel] 
in Tipperary, took its name from an old burial- 
ground, whose church must have been dedicated 
to the Blessed Virgin, for the name signifies 
Mary's cemetery. One mile S. E. of Portstewart 
in Londonderry, there are two townlands called 
Roselick More and Roselick Beg. Roselick is a 
modern contraction for Itosrelick as we find it 
written in the Taxation of 1306 ; and the same 
signifies the ros or point of the cemetery. There 
is a spot in Roselick Beg where large quantities of 
human remains have been found, and the people 
have a tradition that a church once existed there , 
showing that the name preserves a fragment of 
true history (Reeves : Eccl. Ant., p. 75). 

CHAP, iv.] Toicns ami Villages. 347 



"THE most interesting word connected with to- 
pical nomenclature is bally. As an existing 
element it is the most prevalent of all local terms 
in Ireland, there being 6,400 townlands, or above 
a tenth of the sum total, into [the beginning of] 
whose names this word enters as an element. And 
this is a much smaller proportion than existed at 
the beginning of the seventeenth century, when 
there was a tendency, at least in some of the 
northern counties, to prefix batty to almost every 
name whose meaning would admit of it " (" The 
Townland Distribution of Ireland," by the Rev. 
Wm. Reeves, D.D. : Proc. R.I.A., Vol. VII., p. 
473, where this word bails is fully discussed). 

The Irish word bails is now understood to mean 
a town or townland, but in its original accepta- 
tion it denoted simply locus place or situation ; 
it is so explained in various ancient glosses, such 
as those in the Book of Armagh, Cormac's Glos- 
sary, the Book of Lecan, &c. ; and it is used in 
this sense in the Leabhar na hllidhre, and in 
many other old authorities. 

In writings of more modern date, it is often 
used to signify a residence or military station a 
natural extension of meaning from the original. 
For instance, the Four Masters, at 1560, state 
that Owen O'Rourke, having been kept in prison 
by his brother, slew his keeper, " and ascending 
to the top of the bailf, cried out that the castle 
was in his power;" in which baile evidently 
means the fortress in which he was confined. In 

348 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

the Yellow Book of Lecan, an ancient gloss ex- 
plains a rath (i. e. a fort or residence) by baile ; 
and in the story of " The fate of the children of 
Lir " we read : " She [Aeife] went on to [the 
fairy residence called] Sidh Buidhbh Deirg [Shee- 
Boovderg] ; and the nobles of the baile bade her 
welcome" (Atlantis, VII , p. 124). 

This application of the term is obviously pre- 
served in the name of the tongue of land on which 
the Howth lighthouse is built, which is called the 
Green Baiky. Our Annals relate that Criffan, 
monarch of Ireland in the first century, had his 
residence, Dun-Criffan, at Ben Edar or Howth, 
where he died in A.D. 9, " after returning from 
the famous expedition upon which he had gone. 
It was from this expedition he brought with him 
the wonderful jewels, among which were a golden 
chariot, and a golden chess-board [inlaid] with a 
hundred transparent gems, and a beautiful cloak 
embroidered with gold. He brought a conquering 
sword, with many serpents of refined massy gold 
inlaid in it ; a shield with bosses of bright silver ; 
a spear from the wound of which no one recovered ; 
a sling from which no erring shot was discharged ; 
and two greyhounds, with a silver chain between 
them, which chain was worth three hundred 
cumhals; with many other precious articles" (Four 
Masters, A.D. 9). 

Petrie and O'Donovan both believe that the 
lighthouse occupies the site of this ancient 
fortress ; and portions of the fosses by which it 
was defended are still clearly traceable across the 
neck of the little peninsula. The Rev. J. F. 
Shearman is of opinion that it was situated higher 
up, where the old Bailey lighthouse stood ; but 
this does not invalidate the derivation of the 
name. And so the memory of Criffan' s old bally, 

CHAP, iv.] Towns and Villages. 349 

which has long been lost in popular tradition, 
still lives in the name of the Bailey lighthouse. 
In the colloquial language of the present day the 
word baile is used to signify home, which is ob- 
viously a relic of its more ancient application to a 

In modern times this word is usually translated 
"town;" but in this sense it is applied to the 
smallest village, even to a collection of only a 
couple of houses. It is also used to designate 
mere townlands, without any reference at all to 
habitations. This application is as old as the 
twelfth century; for we are informed by Dr 
Reeves that the word was often so used in the 
charters of that period, such as those of Kells, 
Newry, Ferns, &c., in which numbers of denomi- 
nations are mentioned, whose names contain it in 
the forms bali, baley, balli, bale', &c. It is pro- 
bable that in many old names which have de- 
scended to our own time the word bally is used in 
the sense of "residence," but it is difficult or 
impossible to distinguish them ; and I have, fol 
the sake of uniformity, throughout this book 
translated the word by "town" or "townland." 

The most common anglicised form of baile is 
bally, which is found in a vast number of names ; 
such as Ballyorgan near Kilfinane in Limerick, 
which the people call in Irish Baile- Ar again, the 
town of Aragan, an ancient Irish personal name, 
the same as the modern Horgan or Organ. In 
Ballybofey (Donegal) the bally is a modern addi- 
tion ; and the place, if it had retained an angli- 
cised form of the old name, Srath-bo-Fiaich (Four 
Masters), should have been called Srathbofey. 
Some old chief or occupier named Fiach must 
have in past times kept his cows on the beautiful 
holm along the river Finn near the town ; for the 

<i50 Artificial Structure*. [PART in. 

name signifies the srath or river holm of Fiaeh's 
cows. Ballyheige iu Kerry has its name from 
the family of O'Teige, its full Irish name being 
Bdik-ui-Thadg ; and Ballylanders is in like man- 
ner called from the English family of Landers. 
Indeed, a considerable proportion of these Ballys 
take their names from families, of which many 
are so plain as to tell their own story. 

When bally is joined to the article followed 
by a noun in the genitive singular, if the noun 
be masculine, the Irish Baik-an- is generally 
contracted to Sail-in-; as we find in Ballinrobe 
in Mayo, which the Four Masters write Bailc- 
an-Rodhba [Roba], the town of the (river) Robe ; 
and in Ballincurry, Ballincurra, and Ballincurrig, 
all of which are in Irish Baile-an-churraigh, the 
town of the moor or marsh. But it is occasion- 
ally made Ballyn-, as in Ballyneety, the name 
of a dozen places, chiefly in Waterford, Tipperary, 
and Limerick, which represents the sound of the 
Irish Baik-an-Fhaeite, the town of White, a family 
name of English origin. If the following noun 
be feminine, or in the genitive plural, the Irish 
Baik-na- is made either Ballina- or BaUyna- ; as in 
the common townland names, Ballynahinch and 
Ballinahinch, the town of the island ; Ballyna- 
glogh, the town of the stones (clock, a stone). 

In the counties on the eastern coast, bally is 
very often shortened to bal, of which there are 
numerous examples, such as Baldoyle near Dublin, 
which is written in the Registry of All Hallows, 
Balydowyl, and in other old Anglo-Irish au- 
thorities, Ballydubgaill, Balydugil, Ballydowill, 
&c. Irish, Baile-Dubhghoill, the town of Dubli- 
gltall or Doyle, a personal name meaning black 
Gall or foreigner. Balbriggan, the town of Brecan, 
a very usual personal name ; Balrath is generally 

3HAp.iv."] Towns an\l Villages. 65 i 

the town of the fort ; but Balrath in the parish of 
Castletown-Kindalen in Westmeath, is Bile-ratha 
(Four M.j, the bile or ancient tree of the rath. 
Baltrasna, cross-town, i. e. placed in a transverse 
direction, the same name as Ballytrasna, Bally- 
tarsna, and Ballytarsney. 

The plural of baile is bailte, which appears in 
names as it is pronounced, baity. There is a town- 
land in Wicklow, near Hollywood, called Baity 
boys, i. e. Boyce's townlands ; and a further step 
in the process of anglicisation appears in its alia* 
name of Boystown, which form has given name to 
the parish. Baltylum in Armagh, bare townlands, 
i. e. bare of trees ; Baltydaniel in Cork, Donall's 
or Domhnall's townlands. The diminutives Bal- 
leen and Balteen (little town) are the names of 
several places in Kilkenny and the Munster coun- 
ties ; Balteenbrack in Cork, speckled little town. 

Baile is not much liable to changes of form 
further than I have noticed ; yet in a few names 
we find it much disguised. For instance, Cool- 
ballow in the parish of Kerloge, Wexford, repre- 
sents Cul-bhaik, back town, the same as we find 
in Coolbally and Coolballyogan (Hogan's) in 
Queen's County, and Coolballyshane (John's) in 
Limerick. The proper original of Bau0tY& in 
Inishowen, Donegal, is obhaile,cov?town.; Lough - 
bollard, near Clane, Kildare, the lake of the high- 
town ; Derrywillow in Leitrim represents Doire- 
bhaile, which, with the root words reversed, is the 
same name as Ballinderry, the town of the derry 
or oak-wood. 

Srdid [sraud] signifies a street, and appears to 
be borrowed from the Latin strata. The Four 
Masters use it once where they mention Sraid- 
an-fhiona [Sraud-an-eena], the street of the wine, 
now Winetavern-street in Dublin. There are 

352 Artificial Structures. [PART in 

several townlands in Antrim, Donegal and London- 
derry, called Straid, which is one of its English 
forms, and which enters into several other names 
in the same counties; we find Strade in Mayo, 
and Stradeen, little street, in Monaghan. It is also 
sometimes made strad, as in Stradreagh in London- 
derry, grey-street ; Stradavohcr near Thurles, the 
street of the road : Stradbrook near Monkstown 
Dublin, is very probably a translation of Sruthan- 
na-sraid# [sruhanasrauda], the brook of the street. 

A village consisting of one street, undefended 
by either walls or castle a small unfortified ham- 
let was often called Sradbhaile, i. e. street-town ; 
which in its English form, Stradbally, is the name 
of several villages, parishes, and townlands, in the 
southern half of Ireland. Stradbally in Queen's 
County, is mentioned by the Four Masters, who 
call it " Sradbhaile of Leix." 

Buirghes [burris] signifies a burgage or borough. 
This word was introduced by the Anglo-Normans, 
who applied it to the small borough towns which 
they established, several of which have retained 
the original designations. After the twelfth cen- 
tury, it is often found in Irish writings, but always 
as a part of local names. 

It is usually spelled in the present anglicised 
names Borris, Burris, and Burges, which are met 
with forming the whole or part of names in several 
of the Munster, Connaught, and Leinster counties ; 
it does not occur in Ulster. Burriscarra, Borris- 
in-Ossory, Borrisoleagh, and Burrishoole, were so 
called to distinguish them from each other, and 
from other Borrises ; being situated in the ancient 
territories of Carra, Ossory, Ileagh or Ui-Luigh- 
dheach, and Umhall, or " The Owles." Borrisna- 
f arney, the name of a parish in Tipperary, signifies 
the borough of the alder-plain (see Farney) ; 
Borrisokane, O'Keane's borough town. 

CHAP, v.] Fords, Weirs, and Bridges. 353 

Graig, a village. It is supposed by many to 
have been introduced by the Anglo-Normans, but 
its origin is very doubtful. It is used extensively 
in the formation of names, there being upwards of 
sixty places called Graigue, and a great many 
others of whose names it forms a part. It does 
not occur at all in Ulster. 

The name of Graiguenamanagh in Kilkenny, 
bears testimony to its former ecclesiastical emi- 
nence, for it signifies the village of the monks ; 
Graiguealug and Graiguenaspiddogue, both in 
Carlo w, the village of the hollow, and of the robin- 
redbreasts; Graiguefrahane in Tipperary, the 
graig of thefreaghans or whortleberries. Gragane 
and Graigeen in Limerick, Gragan in Clare, and 
Grageen in "Wexford, all signify little village, 
being different forms of the diminutive ; Ard- 
graigue in Galway, and Ardgregane in Tipperary, 
the height of the village. 



THE early inhabitants of a country often, for ob- 
vious reasons, selected the banks of rivers for their 
settlements ; and the position most generally chosen 
was opposite a part of the stream sufficiently shallow 
to be fordable by foot passengers. Many of our 
important towns, as their names clearly indicate, 
derive their origin from these primitive and soli- 
tary settlements ; but moit of the original fords 
have been long since spanned by bridges. 

But whether there was question of settlements 
VOL. i. 24 

354 Artificial Structure?. [PART m. 

or not, the fordable points of rivers must have 
been known to the very earliest colonists, and 
distinguished by names ; for upon this knowledge 
depended, in a great measure, the facility and 
safety of intercommunication, before the erection 
of bridges. Fords were, generally speaking, natural 
features, but in almost all cases they were im- 
proved by artificial means, as we find mentioned 
by Boate : " Concerning the fords : it is to be 
observed that not everywhere, where the high- 
ways meet with great brooks or small rivers, 
bridges are found for to pass them, but in very 
many places one is constrained to ride through 
the water itself, the which could not be done if the 
rivers kept themselves everywhere enclosed be- 
tween their banks ; wherefore they are not only 
suffered in such places to spread themselves abroad, 
but men help thereto as much as they can, to 
make the water so much the shallower, and con- 
sequently the easier to be passed " (Nat. Hist., C. 
VII., Sect. VII.). Very often also, when circum- 
stances made it necessary, a river was rendered 
passable at some particular point, even where there 
was no good natural ford, by laying down stones, 
trees, or wicker work. For these reasons I have 
included " Fords " in this third part among arti- 
ficial structures. 

There are several Irish words for the different 
kinds of fords, of which the most common is ath, 
cognate with Latin vadum. In the various forms 
ath, ah, augh, agh, a, &c., it forms a part of hun- 
dreds of names all over Ireland (see p. 43, supra}. 
The Shannon must have been anciently fordable 
at Athlone ; and there was a time when the site of 
the present busy town was a wild waste, relieved 
by a few solitary huts, and when the traveller 
directed perhaps by a professional guide struggled 

CTTAP, v.^ Fords, Weirs, and Bridges. 355 

across the dangerous passage where the bridge 
now spans the stream. It appears from the "Battle 
of Moylena " (p. 60), that this place was first called 
Athmore, great ford, which was afterwards changed 
to Ath-Luain, the ford of Luan, a man's name, 
formerly very common. I know nothing further 
of this Luan, except that we learn his father's 
name from a passage in the tale called " The fate 
of the children of Tuireann," in which the place 
is called Ath-Luain-mic-Luighdheach, the ford of 
Luan the son of Lewy. 

Athleague on the Suck in the county Ros- 
common, is called by the Four Masters At h- Hag, 
the ford of the stones, or more fully, Ath-liag~ 
Maenagain, from St. Mainagan, who was formerly 
venerated there, though no longer remembered. 
The people say that there is one particular stone 
which the river never covers in its frequent inun- 
dations, and that if it were covered, the town 
would be drowned. There was another At h- Hag, 
on the Shannon, which is also very often mentioned 
in the Annals ; it crossed the river at the present 
village of Lanesborough, and it is now called in 
Irish Baile-atha-liag , or in English Ballyleague, 
(the town of the ford of the stones), which is the 
name of that part of Lanesborough lying on the 
west bank of the Shannon. Another name nearly 
the same as this, is that of Athlacca in Limerick, 
which was so called from a ford on the Morning 
Star river, called in Irish Ath-leacach, stony or 
flaggy ford. And it will appear as I go on, that a 
great many other places derive their names from 
these stony fords. There was another ford higher 
up on the same river, which the Four Masters call 
Bel-atha-na-nDeise [Bellananeasy], the ford-mouth, 
of the Desii, from the old territory of Deis-beag, 
which lay round the hill of Knockany ; and in the 

356 Artificial Structures. PART in. 

shortened form of Ath-nDeise it gives name to the 
surrounding parish, now called Athneasy. 

Ath is represented by aa in Drumaa, the name 
of two townlands in Fermanagh, in Irish Druim- 
atha, the ridge of the ford. A ford on the river 
Inny, formerly surrounded with trees, gave name 
to the little village of Finnea in Westmeath, 
which the Four Masters call Fidh-an-atha [Fee- 
an-aha], the wood of the ford. Affane, a well- 
known place on the Blackwater, took its name 
from a ford across the river about two miles below 
Cappoquin ; it is mentioned by the Four Masters, 
vrhen recording the battle fought there in the 
year 1565, between the rival houses of Desmond 
and Ormond, and they call it Ath-mheadhon \_Ah~ 
vane], middle ford. At the year 524, we read 
in the Four Masters, "the battle of Ath-Sidhe 
[Ahshee] (was gained) by Muircheartach (king of 
Ireland) against the Leinstermen, where Sidhe, 
the son of Dian, was slain, from whom Ath- Sidhe 
[on the Boyne : the ford of Sidhe] is called ; " 
and the place has preserved this name, now 
changed to Assey, which, from the original ford, 
has been extended to a parish. The same autho- 
rity states (A. D. 526), that Sin [Sheen], the 
daughter of Sidhe, afterwards killed Muirchear- 
tach, by burning the house of Cletty over his 
head, in revenge of her father's death. 

Ath is very often combined with baile forming 
the compound Baile-atha [Bally-aha], the town of 
the ford ; of which Ballyboy in the King's County, 
a village giving name to a parish and barony, is 
an example, being called in various authorities, 
Baile-atha-buidhe [Ballyaboy], the town of theyel- 
ow ford. There are many townlands in different 
counties, of the same name, but it probably means 
yellow town \_Baile-buidhe~\ in some of these cases. 

CHAP, v.] Fords, Weirs, and Bridges. 357 

Ballylahan in the parish of Templemore, Mayo, is 
called in the annals Baile-atha-leathain, the town 
of the broad ford. The parish of Bailee in Down 
is written in the taxation of 1306, Baliath, which 
shows clearly that the original name is Baile-atha 
(Beeves : Eccl. Ant., p. 41). 

The diminutive ath an [ahaun] is of frequent 
occurrence ; in the forms of Ahane and Ahaun 
(little ford), it gives name to several townlandsin 
the southern counties ; and there is a parish in 
Derry called Aghanloo, or in Irish Athan Lug ha, 
Lewy's little ford. 

The word bel or I6al [bale] primarily signifies 
a mouth, but in a secondary sense it was used, 
like the Latin os, to signify an entrance to any 
place. In this sense, it appears in Bellaugh, the 
name of a village lying west of Athlone. Between 
this village and the town there was formerly a 
slough or miry place called in Irish a lathach 
[lahagh], which the Four Masters mention by the 
name of Lathach- Caichtuthbil ; and the spot where 
the village stands was called Bel-lathaigh, the 
entrance to the lathach, which is now correctly 
enough anglicised Bellaugh. Bellaghy, another 
and more correct form, is the name of a village 
in Londonderry, of another in Sligo, and of a 
townland in Antrim. 

This word be'lis very often united with ath, form- 
ing the compound bel-atha [bellaha orbella], which 
signifies ford-entrance an entrance by a ford 
literally mouth of a ford; it is applied to a ford, and 
has in fact much the same signification as ath itself. 
It is so often used in this manner that the word 
bel alone sometimes denotes a ford. Belclare, 
now the name of a parish in Galway, was more 
anciently applied to a castle erected to defend a 
ford on the road leading to Tuain, which was 

353 Artificial Structures. [PART nt. 

called Bel-an-chlair, the ford or entrance of the 
plank. There is also a townland in Mayo, called 
Belclare, and another in Sligo, which the Four 
Masters call Bel-an-chlair. Phale near Enniskeen 
in Cork, is called in the Annals of Innisfallen, 
Inis-an-bheil [Innishanwzfe], the island or river 
holm of the mouth, the last syllable of which is 
preserved in the present name. 

The proper anglicised form of bel-atha, is bella, 
which is the beginning of a great many names. 
Bellanagare in Roscommon, formerly the residence 
of Charles O'Conor the historian, is called in Irish 
Bel-atha-na-gcarr, the ford-mouth of the cars (see 
for cars 2nd Vol., Chap, XT. ) ; Lisbellaw in Fer- 
managh, Lios-bel-atha, the Us of the ford-mouth. 
Sometimes the article intervenes, making bel-an- 
atlia in the original, the correct modern represen- 
tative of which is bellana, as we find in Bellana- 
cargy in Cavan, the ford-mouth of the rock. 

Bdl-atha is often changed in modern names to 
balli, or bally, as if the original root were baik a 
town ; and bel-an-atha is made ballina. Both of 
these modern forms are very general, but they 
are so incorrect as to deserve the name of corrup- 
tions. Ballina is the name of about twenty-five 
townlands and villages in different parts of Ireland 
several of which are written Bel-an-atha in the 
annals. Ballina in Tipperary, opposite Killaloe, 
was so called from the ford now spanned by a 
bridge called Ath-na-borumha, the ford of the 
cow tribute ; and here no doubt the great monarch 
Brian was accustomed to cross the Shannon when 
returning to his palace of Kincora, with the herds 
of cattle exacted from the Leinstennen (see Boro, 
below). Ballina in Mayo, on the Moy, is some- 
what different, and represents a longer name, for 
it is called in an ancient poem in the Book of 

CHAP, v.] Fords, Weirs, and Bridges. 359 

Lecan, Bel-atha-an~fheadha [Bellahana], the ford- 
mouth of the wood. We find this compound also 
in Ballinafad in Sligo, which the Four Masters 
call Bel-an-atha-fada [Bellanafada], the mouth of 
the long ford ; and there is a village in Leitrim 
and several townlands in other counties, called 
Ballinamore, the mouth of the great ford. 

Bel-atha is reduced to bally and balli in the 
following names. The ford on the river Erne 
round which the town of Ballyshannon rose is 
called by the annalists, Ath-Seanaigh and Bel-atha- 
Seanaigh [Bellashanny] ; from the latter, the 
modern name is derived, and it means the mouth 
of Seanach's or Shannagh's ford, a man's name in 
common use. The on in Ballyshannow is a modern 
corruption ; the people call the town Ballyshanny, 
which is nearer the original ; and in an Inquisition 
of James L, it is given with perfect correctness, 
Bealashanny. Ballyshannon in Kildare, west of 
Kilcullen Bridge, is also called in Irish Ath 
Seanaigh (Four Masters), Seanach's ford; and the 
present name was formed, as in case of the 
northern town, by prefixing Bel. It appears 
from a record in the Annals of Ulster, that this 
place in Kildare was also called Uchba. 

There is a ford on the river Boro in Wexford, 
called Bel-atha-Borumha, which preserves the 
memory of the well known Borumha or cow 
tribute, long exacted from the kings of Leinster 
by the monarchs of Ireland (see p. 158). From 
the latter part of the name, Borumha [Boru], this 
river so lovingly commemorated in Mr. Ken 
nedy's interesting book, " The banks of the Boro' 
derives its name. The ford is called Bealaborowt 
in an inquisition of Charles I., and in the modem 
form Ballyboro, it gives name to a townland. 
Ballylicky, on the road from Glengarriff to 

360 Artificial Structures. LPART in. 

Bantry in Cork, where the river Ouvane enters 
Bantry Bay, is called in Irish Bel-atha-lice, the 
ford-mouth of the flag-stone, and whoever has 
seen it will acknowledge the appropriateness of 
the name. All the places called Bellanalack, 
derive their names from similar fords. 

When a river spread widely over a craggy or 
rugged spot, the rough shallow ford thus formed 
was often called scairbh [scarriv], or as O'Reilly, 
spells it, scirbh. A ford of this kind on a small 
river in Clare, gave name to the little town of 
Scarriff ; and there are several townlands of the 
same name in Cork, Kerry, and Galway. Near 
Newtownhamilton in Armagh, there are two ad- 
joining townlands called SkerrifE ; and the same 
term is found shortened in Scarnageeragh in 
Monaghan, Scairbh-na-gcaerach, the shallow ford 
of the sheep. 

The syllable ach is sometimes added to this word 
in the colloquial language, making scairbheach 
[scarvagh], which has the same meaning as 
the original ; this derivative is represented by 
Scarva, the name of a village in Down ; Scarvy in 
Monaghan ; and Scarragh in Tipperary and Cork. 

In the end of names, when the word occurs in 
the genitive, it is usually, though not always, 
anglicised scarry, as in Ballynascarry in West- 
meath and Kilkenny, the town of the ford ; and 
Lackanascarry in Limerick, the flag-stones of the 
shallow ford. A ford of this kind, where the old 
road crosses the Cookstown river, gave name to 
Enniskerry in Wicklow. This spot is truly de- 
scribed by the term scairbh, being rugged and 
stony even now ; the natives call it Annaskerry, 
and its Irish name is obviously Ath-na-scairbhe 
[Anascarry], the ford of the scarriffor rough river- 
crossing. Other forms are seen in Bellanascarrow 

CHAP, v.] Fords, Weirs, and Bridges. 361 

and Bellanascarva in Sligo, the ford-mouth of the 
scarriff (see p. 358). 

The word fearsad [farsad] is applied to a sand- 
bank formed near the mouth of a river, by the 
opposing currents of tide and stream, which at 
low water often formed a firm, and comparatively 
safe passage across. The term is pretty common, 
especially in the west, where these farsets are of 
considerable importance, as in many places they 
serve the inhabitants instead of bridges. Colgan 
translates the word, "vadum vel trftjectus." 

A sandbank of this kind across the mouth of the 
Lagan gave name to Belfast, which is called in Irish 
authorities Bel-feirsdS, the ford of the farset; and 
the same name, in the uncontracted form Belfar- 
sad, occurs in Mayo. There is now a bridge over 
the old sandbank that gave name to the village of 
Farsid near Aghada on Cork harbour ; the origin 
of this name is quite forgotten, and the people 
call it Farside, and understand it to be an English 
word ; but the name of the adjacent townland of 
Ballynafarsid proves, if proof were necessary, 
that it took its name from a, farset. Callanafersy 
in Kerry, between the mouths of the rivers Maine 
and Laune, is somewhat softened down from the 
Irish name Cafa-na-feirtse, the ferry of the farset. 
On the river Swilly where it narrows near Letter- 
kenny, there was a farset which in old times was 
evidently an important pass, for the Four Masters 
record several battles fought near it : it is now 
called Farsetmore, and it can still be crossed at 
low water. 

A kish or kesh, in Irish ceis [kesh], is a kind of 
causeway made of wickerwork, and sometimes of 
boughs of trees and brambles, across a small river, 
a marsh, or a deep bog. The word means pri- 
marily wicker or basket work ; and to this day, 

362 Artificial Structures. [PART TIL 

in some parts of Ireland, they measure and sell 
turf by the kish, which originally meant a large 
wicker-basket. These wickerwork bridges or 
kishes, were formerly very common in every part 
of Ireland, and are so still in some districts. The 
Four Masters record at 1483, that O'Donnell on 
a certain occasion constructed a ceasaigh-droichet 
[cassy-drohet] or wicker bridge across the Black- 
water in Tyrone, for his army ; and when they 
had crossed, he let the bridge float down the 
stream. The memory of this primitive kind of 
bridge is preserved in many places by the names. 

This word appears in its simple form in Kesh, 
a small town in Fermanagh ; and in Kish, a town- 
land near Arklow ; and I suppose the Kish light, 
outside Dublin Bay, must have been originally 
floated on a wicker framework. A causeway of 
brambles and clay made across a marsh, not far from 
a high limestone rock, gave name to the village 
of Keshcarrigan in Leitrim, the kesh of the car- 
rigan or little rock. There is a place not far from 
Mallow, called Annakisha (Ath-na-cise) the ford 
of the wickerwork causeway a name that points 
clearly to the manner in which the ford on the 
river was formerly rendered passable. 

Sometimes ceiseach, or in English kishagh, is the 
form used, and this in fact is rather more common 
than kish : we find it as Kisha near Wexf ord ; and 
the same form is preserved in Kishaboy (boy, 
yellow) in Armagh. Other modifications are seen 
in Casey Glebe in Donegal ; Cassagh in Kil- 
kenny ; and in Cornakessagh in Fermanagh, the 
round hill of the wicker causeway. Kishogue, little 
kish, is the name of a place near Lucan in Dublin. 

Those wickerwork causeways were also often 
designated by the word cliath [clee], which pri- 
marily means a hurdle j the diminutive ckthnat 

CHAP, v.] Fords, Weirs, and Bridges. 363 

glosses tigillum in the Sg. MS. of Zeuss (Gram, 
elt., p. 282) ; and it is cognate with Lat. clitellce 
and Fr. claie. An artificial ford of this kind was 
constructed across the Liffey (see p. 45), in very 
early ages ; and the city that subsequently sprung 
up around it was from this circumstance called 
Ath-cliath [Ah-clee], the ford of hurdles, which 
was the ancient name of Dublin. This is the name 
still used by speakers of Irish in every part of 
Ireland ; but they join it to Bally Baile-atha- 
cliath (which they pronounce Blaa-clee), the town 
of the hurdle ford. 

The present name, Dublin, is written in the 
annals Duibh-linn, which in the ancient Latin Life 
of St. Kevin, is translated nigra therma, i. e. black 
pool ; it was originally the name of that part of 
the Liffey on which the city is built, and is suffi- 
ciently descriptive at the present day. Duibh-linn 
is sounded Duvlin or Divlin, and it was undoubtedly 
so pronounced down to a comparatively recent 
period by speakers of both English and Irish ; 
tor in old English writings, as well as on Danish 
coins, we find the name written Divlin, Dyflin, &c., 
and even yet the Welsh call it Dulin. The pre- 
sent name has been formed by the restoration of 
the aspired b (see p. 43, supra). 

There are several other places through Ireland 
called Duibhlinn, but the aspiration of the b is 
observed in all, and consequently not one of them 
has taken the anglicised form Dublin. Devlin is 
the name of eight townlands in Donegal, Mayo, 
and Monaghan ; Dowling occurs near Fiddown in 
Kilkenny, Doolin in Clare, and Ballindoolin, the 
town of the black pool, in Kildare. 

In several of these cases, the proper name was 
Ath-cliath, hurdle ford, which was formerly com- 
mon as a local name; and they received thoir 

364 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

present names merely in imitation of Dublin ; for, 
as the people when speaking Irish, always called 
the metropolis, Baile-atha-cliath, and in English, 
Dublin, they imagined that the latter was a trans- 
lation of the former, and translated the names of 
their own places accordingly. 

A row of stepping-stones across a ford on a 
river, is called in every part of Ireland by the 
name of clochan, pronounced clackan in the north 
of Ireland and in Scotland. This mode of ren- 
dering a river fordable was as common in ancient 
as it is in modern times ; for in the tract of Brehon 
Laws in the Book of Ballymote, regulating the 
stipend of various kinds of artificers, it is stated 
that the builder of a clochan is to be paid two cows 
for his labour. 

These stepping-stones have given names to 
places in all parts of Ireland, now called Cloghan, 
Cloghane, and Cloghaun, the first being more 
common in the north, and the two last in the south. 
Cloghanaskaw in Westmeath, was probably so 
called from a ford shaded with trees, for the name 
signifies the stepping-stones of the shade or 
shadow ; Cloghanleagh, grey stepping-stones, was 
the old name of Dunglow in Donegal ; Cloghane- 
nagleragh in Kerry, the stepping-stones of the 
clergy; Ballycloghan and Ballincloghan, the town 
of the cloghan, are the names of several townlands. 

Clochan is sometimes applied to a stone castle, 
and in some of the names containing this root, it 
is to be understood in this sense. And in Cork 
and Kerry it is also used to denote an ancient 
stone house of a beehive shape. 

When there were no means of making a river 
fordable, there remained the never-failing re- 
source of swimming. When rivers had to be crossed 
in this manner, certain points seem to have been 

CHAP, v.] Fords, Weirs, and Bridges. 365 

selected, which were considered more suitable than 
others for swimming across, either because the 
stream was narrower there than elsewhere, or that 
it was less dangerous on account of the stillness of 
the water, or that the shape of the banks afforded 
peculiar facilities. Such spots were often desig- 
nated by the word snamh [snauv], which literally 
means swimming : a word often met with in our 
old historical writings in the sense of a swimming - 
ford, and which forms part of several of our pre- 
sent names. 

Lixnaw on the river Brick in Kerry, is called 
in the Four Masters Lic-snamha [Licksnawa], the 
flag-stone of the swimming ; the name probably 
indicating that there was a large stone on the 
bank, from which the swimmers were accustomed 
to fling themselves off ; and Portnaswow near En- 
niskillen (port, a bank), is a name of similar origin. ' 
About midway between GlengarrifE and Bantry, 
the traveller crosses Snave bridge, where before 
the erection of the bridge, the deep transparent 
creek at the mouth of the Coomhola river must 
have been generally crossed by swimming. So 
with the Shannon at Drumsna in Leitrim ; the 
Erne at Drumsna, one mile south-east of Ennis- 
killen ; and the narrow part of the western arm of 
Lough Corrib at Drumsnauv ; all of which names 
are from the Irish Druim-snamha [Drum-snauva], 
the hill-ridge of the swimming-ford. 

When the article is used with this word snamh 
the s is eclipsed by t, as we see in Carrigatna in 
Kilkenny, which is in Irish Carraig-a' -tsnamha, 
the rock of the swimming ; and Glanatnaw in the 
parish of Caheragh, Cork, where the people used 
to swim across the stream that runs through the 
glan or glen. In the north of Ireland the n of 
this construction is replaced by r (seep. 51 supra), 

366 Artificial Structures* [PART m. 

as in Ardatrave on the shore of Lough Erne in 
Fermanagh, Ard-a'-tsnamha [Ardatnauva], the 
height of the swimming. Immediately after the 
Shannon issues from Lough Allen, it flows under 
a bridge now called Ballintra ; but "Weld, in his 
" Survey of Roscommon," calls \iBallintrave, which 
points to the Irish B^l-an-tsnamha [Bellantnauva], 
the ford of the swimming, and very clearly indi- 
cates the usual mode of crossing the river there in 
former ages. A better form of this same name is 
preserved in Bellantra Bridge crossing the Black 
River in Leitrim, on the road from Drumlish to 

The lower animals, like the human inhabitants, 
had often their favourite spots on rivers or 
lakes, where they swam across in their wanderings 
from place to place. On the shore of the little 
lake of Muckno in Monaghan, where it nar- 
rows in the middle, there was once a well-known 
religious establishment called in the annals Muc- 
shnamh [Mucknauv], the swimming place of the 
pigs (muc, a pig), which has been softened to the 
present name Muckno. Some of our ecclesiastical 
writers derive this name from a legend ; but the 
natural explanation seems to be, that wild pigs 
were formerly in the habit of crossing the lake at 
this narrow part. Exactly the same remark applies 
to the Kenmare river, where it is now spanned by 
the suspension bridge at the town. It was nar- 
rowed at this point by a spit of land projecting 
from the northern shore ; and here in past ages, 
wild pigs used to swim across so frequently and 
in such numbers, that the place was called Muc- 
snamh or Mucksna, which is now well known as 
the name of a little hamlet near the bridge, and 
of the hill that rises over it, at the south side of 
the river. 

JHAP. v.] Fords, Weirs, and Bridges. 367 

A weir across a river, either for fishing or to 
divert a mill-stream, is called in Irish cor a or 
coradh [curra]. Brian Borumha's palace of Kin- 
cora was built on a hill near the present town of 
Killaloe, and it is repeatedly mentioned in the 
annals by the name of Ceann-coradh, the head or 
hill of the weir ; from which we may infer that 
there was a fishing weir across the Shannon at 
this point, from early times. There is another 
Kincora in King's County, in which was a castle 
mentioned by the Four Masters, and called by the 
same Irish name. And we find Tikincor in Water- 
ford, the house at the head of the weir. 

Ballinacor in Glenmalure in Wicklow, which 
gives name to two baronies, is called in the Leabhar 
Branach, Baile-na-corra, the town of the W3ir. 
There are several other places of the same name 
in "Wicklow and Westmeath ; and it is modified to 
Ballinacur in Wexford, and to Ballinacurra or 
Ballynacorra in several counties, the best known 
place of the name being Ballynacorra on Cork 
harbour. Corrofin in Clare is called by the Four 
Masters Coradh-Finne, the weir of Finna, a woman's 
name (see p. 174, supra] ; in the same authority 
we find Drumcar in Louth, written Druim-caradh 
[Drumcara], the ridge of the weir ; and here the 
people still retain the tradition of the ancient 
weir on the river Dee, and point out its site ; 
Smith (Hist, of Cork, II., 254) states that there 
was formerly an eel- weir of considerable profit at 
the castle of Carrignacurra on the river Lee near 
Inchigeelagh ; and the name bears out his asser- 
tion, for it signifies the rock of the weir. 

" The origin of stone bridges in Ireland is not 
very accurately ascertained; but this much at 
least appears certain, that none of any importance 
were erected previous to the twelfth century" 

368 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

(Petrie, " Dub. Pen. Journal," I., 150). Droichet, 
as it is given in Cormac's Glossary, or in modern 
Irish, droichead [drohed], is the word universally 
employed to denote a bridge, and under this name 
bridges are mentioned in our oldest authorities. 
The fourteenth abbot of lona, from A.D. 726 to 
752, was Cilline, who was surnamed Droichteach, 
i. e. the bridge maker ; and Fiachna, the son of 
Aedh Roin, king of Ulidia in the eighth century, 
was called Fiachna Dubh Droichtech, black Fi- 
achna of the bridges, because "it was he that 
made Droichet-na-Feirsi (the bridge of the farset, 
see p. 361), and Droichet- Mona-daimh (the bridge 
of the bog of the ox), and others." It is almost 
certain, however, that these structures were of 
wood, and that bridges with stone arches were not 
built till after the arrival of the Anglo-Normans. 

Many places in Ireland have taken their names 
from bridges, and the word droichead is often 
greatly modified by modern corruption. It is to 
be observed that the place chosen for the erection 
of a bridge was very usually where the river had 
already been crossed by a ford ; for besides the 
convenience of retaining the previously existing 
roads, the point most easily f ordable was in general 
most suitable for a bridge. There are many 
places whose names preserve the memory of this, 
of which Drogheda is a good example. This place 
is repeatedly mentioned in old authorities, and 
always called Droichead-atha [Drohed-aha], the 
bridge of the ford ; from which the present name 
was easily formed ; pointing clearly to the fact, 
that the first bridge was built over the ford where 
the northern road along the coast crossed the 

There is a townland in Kildare called Drehid, 
and another in Londonderry called Droghed; 

CHAP, v."] Fords, Weirs, and Bridges. 369 

Drehidtarsna (cross-bridge) is a parish in Limerick; 
Ballydrehid and Ballindrehid, the town of the 
bridge, are the names of some townlands, the 
same as Ballindrait in Donegal. The memory of 
the two modes of crossing is preserved in the 
name of Belladrihid near Ballysadare in Sligo, 
which the Four Masters write Bel-an-droichit, the 
ford of the bridge. Five miles east of Macroom, 
near a bridge over the Lee, there is a rock in the 
river on which stands a castle, called Carrigadro- 
hid, the rock of the bridge : according to a legend 
told in the neighbourhood, the castle was built by 
one of the Mac Carthys with the money extorted 
from a leprechaun (see p. 190, supra). 

The word is obscured in Knockacfm, the hill 
of the bridge, in Wicklow, which same name is 
correctly anglicised Knockadrehid in Hoscommon. 
A like difference is observable between Druma- 
drehid and T)T\imadried, the ridge of the bridge, 
the former in Clare, and the latter in Antrim ; 
and between Rosdrehid in the south of King's 
County, and Rossdroit south-west of Enniscorthy, 
both meaning the wood of the bridge. The parish 
of Kildrought in Kildare took its name from a 
bridge over the Liffey, the Irish form being Oill- 
droichid, the church of the bridge. Though the 
parish retains the old name, that of the original 
spot is changed by an incorrect translation ; the 
first part was altered to Cel, and the last part 
translated, forming Celbridge, the name of a well- 
known town. What renders this more certain is, 
that the place is called Kyldroghet, in an Inquisi- 
tion of William and Mary. 

VOL. T. 25 

370 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 



"ACCORDING to the Irish annals, and other frag- 
ments of our native history, the ancient Irish had 
many roads which were cleaned and kept in repair 
according to law. The different terms used to 
denote road, among the ancient Irish, are thus 
defined in Cormac's Glossary, from which a pretty 
accurate idea may be formed of their nature" 
(O'Donovan, Book of Rights, Introd., p. Ivi.). 
'Donovan then quotes Cormac's enumeration of 
the different terms, several of which are still used. 
According to the Dinnsenchus, there were an- 
ciently five great roads leading to Tara, from five 
different directions; and it would appear from 
several authorities that they were constructed in 
the reign of Felimy the lawgiver, in the second 
century (see p. 129, supra). Besides these great 
highways, numerous other roads are mentioned in 
our annals and tales, many of which are enume- 
rated in O 'Donovan's valuable introduction to the 
Book of Rights. 

Among the different Irish words to denote a 
road, the most common and best known is bothar 
[boher] ; and its diminutive bohereen is almost on 
the eve of acknowledgment as an English word. 
It originally meant a road for cattle, being derived 
from bo, a cow ; and Cormac defines its breadth 
to be such that "two cows fit upon it, one length- 
wise, the other athwart, and their calves and year 
lings fit on it along with them." 

The word is scarcely used at all in Ulster ; but 
in the other provinces, the anglicised forms Boher 

CHAP, vi.] Roads and Causeways. 371 

and Bohereen or Borheen, constitute part of a 
great number of names, and they are themselves 
the names of several places. There is a townland 
in Gal way called Bohercuill, the road of the hazel 
(coll) ; and this same name becomes Boherkyle in 
Kilkenny, Boherkill in Kildare, and Boherquiil in 
Westmeath ; while with the diminutive, it is 
found as Bohereenkyle in Limerick. 

Sometimes the word is contracted to one syllable ; 
as we find, for instance, in Borleagh and Borna- 
courtia in Wexf ord, grey road, and the road of 
the court or mansion ; and Borderreen in King's 
County, the road of the little wood. When the 
word occurs as a termination, the b is often aspi- 
rated (p. 19), as in the common townland name, 
Ballinvoher, the town of the road ; and in this 
case we also sometimes find it contracted, as in 
Cartronbore near Granard, the quarter-land of 
the road. For the change of bothar to batter, see 
p. 44, supra. 

Slighe or Sligheadh [slee] was anciently applied 
by the Irish to the largest roads ; the five great 
roads leading to Tara, for instance, were called by 
this name. The word is still in common use in 
the vernacular, but it has not entered very ex- 
tensively into names. 

Slee near Enniskillen preserves the exact pro- 
nunciation of the original word ; Clonaslee, a 
village in Queen's County, is the meadow of the 
road ; Bruslee in Antrim, indicates that a brugh 
or mansion stood near the old road ; and Sleeman- 
agh near Castletownroche in Cork, is middle road. 
Sleehaun, little road, is the name of some places 
in Longford and Donegal ; and in Roscommon we 
find Cornasleehan, the round-hill of the little 

Realach [ballugh], signifies a road or pass. It 

372 Artificial Structures. PART in. 

forms part of the well-known battle cry of the 
88th Connaught Rangers, Fag-a-bealach, clear the 
road. Ballagh, the usual modern form, consti- 
tutes or begins the names of a number of places ; 
near several of these the ancient roadways may be 
traced ; and in some cases they are still used. 
Ballaghboy, yellow road, was formerly the name 
of several old highways, and is still retained by a 
number of townlands. Ballaghmoon, two miles 
north of Carlow, where the battle in which Cormac 
Mac Cullenan was killed, was fought in the year 
903, is called in the Book of Leinster, Bealach- 
Mughna, Mughan's or Mooan's pass ; but we know 
not who this Mughan was. 

The great road from Tara to the south-west, 
called Slighe Dala, is still remembered in the 
name of a townland in Queen's County, which 
enables us to identify at least one point in its 
course. This road was also called Ballaghmore 
Moydala (the great road of the plain of the con- 
ference), and the first part of this old name 
is retained by the townland of Ballaghmore 
near Stradbally. There are several other places 
in Leinster an'd Munster called Ballaghmore, but 
none with such interesting associations as this. 

Several other well-known places retain the 
memory of those old bealachs. Ballaghadereen in 
Mayo, is called in Irish Bealach-a-doirm, the road 
of the little oak-wood ; the village of Ballaghkeen 
in Wexford, was originally called Bealach-caein, 
beautiful road ; and Ballaghkeeran near Athlone, 
must have been formerly shaded with keerans or 

When this word occurs as a termination, it is 
very often changed to vally by the aspiration of 
the b, and the disappearance of the final guttural. 
There are townlands scattered through the four 

CHAP, vi.] Roads and Causetvays. 373 

provinces called Ballinvally and Ballyvally, the 
town of the road ; which in Limerick is made 
Ballinvallig, by the restoration of the final g 
(p. 31), So also Moyvally, the name of a place 
in Carlow, and of another in Kildare the latter a 
station on the Midland railway the plain or field 
of the road. The word has another form still in 
Revallagh near Coleraine, clear or open (reidh) 
road so called, no doubt, to distinguish it from 
some other road difficult of passage. For the 
word rod, a road, see 2nd Vol., Chap. xm. 

Casan signifies a path. It is a term that does 
not often occur, but we find a few places to which 
it gives names ; such as Cassan in Fermanagh ; 
Cussan in Kilkenny ; and Cossaun near Athenry 
in Galway all of which mean simply " path : " 
the same name is corrupted to Carsan in Monagh- 
an ; and the plural Cussana (paths) is the name 
of two townlands in Kilkenny. Ardnagassan 
near Donegal, and Ardnagassane in Tipperary, 
are both called in the original Ard-na-gcasan, the 
height of the paths. 

It is curious that the river Cashen in Kerry 
derives its name from this word. It is called 
Cashen as far as it is navigable for curraghs, i. e. 
up to the junction of the Feale and the Brick ; 
and its usual name in the annals is Casan-Kernj , 
i. e. the path to Kerry being as it were the high- 
road to that ancient territory. But the term waa 
also applied to other streams. The mouth of the 
Ardee river in Louth was anciently called Casan- 
Linne ("Circuit of Ireland"); and the village of 
Annagassan partly preserves this old name Ath- 
na-gcasan, the ford of the paths probably in re- 
ference to the two rivers, Glyde and Dee, which 
join near the village (see Dr. Todd in " Wars oi 
GGr./' Introd., p. Ixii, note 1). 

374 Artificial Structures. ["PATIT in 

In early ages, before the extension of cultiva- 
tion and drainage, the roads through the country 
must have often been interrupted by bogs and 
morasses, which, when practicable, were made 
passable by causeways. They were variously con- 
ptructed ; but the materials were generally 
branches of trees, bushes, earth, and stones, 
placed in alternate layers, and trampled down till 
they were sufficiently firm ; and they were called 
by the Irish name of tochar. 

These tochars were very common all over the 
country; our annals record the construction of 
many in early ages, and some of these are still 
traceable. They have given names to a number 
of townlands and villages, several of them called 
Togher, and many others containing the word in 
combination. Ballintogher, the town of the 
causeway,' is a very usual name (but Ballintogher 
in Sligo appears to be a different name see this 
in 2nd Vol.) ; and Templetogher (the church of 
the togher), in Gralway was so called from a cele- 
brated causeway across a bog, whose situation is 
still well known to the inhabitants. 



MANY authorities concur in showing that water 
mills were known in this country in very remote 
ages, and that they were even more common in 
ancient than in modern times. We know from 
the Lives of the Irish saints, that several of them 
erected mills where they settled, shortly after the 
introduction of Christianity, as St. Senanus, St. 

CHAP, vii.] Mills and Kilns. 375 

Ciaran, St. Mochua, St. Fechin, &c. ; and in 
some cases mills still exist on the very sites se- 
lected by the original founders as, for instance, 
at Fore in Westmeath, where " St. Fechin's mill " 
works as busily to-day as it did twelve hundred 
years ago. "We may infer, moreover, from seve- 
ral grants and charters of the eleventh and twelfth 
centuries, that, where circumstances permitted, a, 
mill was a usual appendage to a ballybetagh, or 
ancient townland. 

It appears certain that water mills were used in 
Ireland before the introduction of Christianity. 
For we have reliable historical testimony that 
Cormac mac Art, monarch of Ireland in the third 
c.entury, sent across the sea for a millwright, who 
constructed a mill on the stream of Nith, which 
flowed from the well of Neamhnach [Navnagh] at 
Tara. " The ancient Irish authorities all agree in 
stating that this was the first mill ever erected in 
Ireland ; and it is remarkable that this circum- 
stance is still most vividly preserved by tradition 
not only in the neighbourhood, where a mill still 
occupies its site, but also in most parts of Ireland. 
Tradition adds that it was from the king of Scot- 
land the Irish monarch obtained the millwright, 
and it can be shown that the probability of its 
truth is strongly corroborated by that circum- 
stance "* (see Mullenoran in 2nd Vol.). 

The Irish word for a mill is muilenn [mullen] 
and this term exists in several of the Indo-Euro- 
pean languages : Sansc. malana, the action of 
grinding ; Lat. molo to grind ; Goth, malan; Eng. 
mill. A very considerable number of places in 
Ireland have taken their names from mills, and 

* From the Ordnance memoir of the parish of Templemore 
See also O'Donovan's article on the antiquity of corn in Ire- 
land in the Dublin Penny Journal, and Petrie s Essay on Tara. 

376 Artificial Structures. [PART in. 

the most usual anglicised form of muilenn is Mullen 
or Mullin 

Mullennakill in Kilkenny, is in Irish, Muiknn- 
na-cille, the mill of the church ; and Mullinavat, 
in the same county is Muilenn-a'-bhata, the mill 
of the stick When this word occurs as a termi- 
nation the m is often changed to w by aspiration 
(p. 19), as in Mawillian in Londonderry, Magh- 
mhuilinn, the plain of the mill. Ballywillin is 
the name of a parish on the borders of Antrim 
and Londonderry, and of several townlands in 
these and other counties ; while the form Ballin- 
willin is very frequent in some of the southern 
counties ; this name signifies the town of the mill, 
and it is often so translated, from which has origi- 
nated the very common name Milltown. Cloona- 
willen is the name of five townlands, the same as 
Clonmullin and Cloonrnullin, all signifying the 
cloon 01 meadow of the mill ; there is a parish in 
Monaghan called Aghnamullen, and two town- 
lands in Leitrim called Aghawillin, the former 
the field of the mills, and the latter, of the mill ; 
Killawillin on the Blackwater, near Castletown- 
roche in Cork, is called in Irish by the people 
Cill-a? -mhuilinn, the church of the mill; Killy- 
willin, the name of a townland in Fermanagh, 
and of another in Cavan, is different, the lattei 
place being called by the Four Masters, Coill-an~ 
mhuilinn, the wood of the mill. 

A quern or hand mill is designated by the won) 
bro, which is also applied to the mill-stone used 
with water mills ; genitive Iron or broin [brone], 
plural brointe [broanty]. We find this word in 
the names of several places, where it is likely 
there were formerly water mills or hand mills, 
thi owners of which made their living by grinding 
their neighbours' corn- Coolnabrone, the hill- 

CHAP, vii.] Mills and Kilns. 877 

back of the quern or mill- stone, is the name of 
two townlands in Kilkenny ; and in the same 
county near Fiddown, is Tobernabrone, the well 
of the quern ; Clonbrone and Cloonbrone, the 
meadow of the mill- stone, are the names of some 
townlands in King's County, Gralway, and Mayo. 

Before the potato came into general use it was 
customary for families those especially who were 
not within easy reach of a mill to grind their 
own corn for home consumption ; and the quern 
was consequently an instrument of very general 
use. "We may presume that there were professional 
quern makers, and we know for a certainty that 
some places received names from producing stones 
well suited for querns. Such a place is Oarrig- 
eenamronety, a hill near Ballyorgan in Limerick, 
on whose side there is a ridge of rocks, formerly 
much resorted to by the peasantry for quern 
stones ; its Irish name is Carraigm-na-mbrointe, 
the little rock of the mill-stones ; and there are 
other rocks of the same name in Limerick. So 
also Bronagh in Leitrim, i. e. a place abounding 
in mill- stones. 

Aith [ah] denotes a kiln of any kind, whether 
a lime-kiln or a kiln for drying corn. It is gene- 
rally found in the end of names, joined with na, 
the gen. fern, of the article, followed by h, by 
which it is distinguished from ath, a ford, which 
takes an in the genitive. There are several places 
in Monaghan and Armagh, called Annahaia and 
Annahagh, all of which are from the Irish, Aih- 
na-haithe, the ford of the kiln ; we find Ballyna- 
haha in Limerick, and Ballynahaia in Cavan 
(Bally, a town) ; in Antrim, Lisnahay (Lts, a fort) ; 
Gortnahey in Londonderry, Gortnahaha in Clare 
and Tipperary, and Aughnahoy in Antrim, all of 
which signify the field of the kiln. 





IKE most other countries, Ire- 
land has a large proportion of 
its territorial names derived 
from those of hills. For hills, 
being the most conspicuous 
physical features, are naturally 
often fixed upon, in preference 
to others, to designate the dis- 
)tr/cts in which they stand. 
There are at least twenty-five 
words in the Irish language for 
a hill, besides many others to 
denote rocks, points, slopes, and 
cliffs; and all without exception have impressed 
themselves on the nomenclature of the country. 
Many of these are well distinguished one from an- 
other, each being applied to a hill of some particular 
shape or formation ; but several, though they may 
have been formerly different in meaning, are now 
used synonymously, so that it is impossible to 

CTTAP. T.] Mountains, Hills, and Rc'to 379 

make any distinction between them, i will here 
enumerate them, and illustrate the manner in 
which names are formed from each. 

Sliabh [sleeve] signifies a mountain ; and ac- 
cording to O'Brien, it was sometimes applied to 
any heath-land, whether mountain or plain. It 
occurs in the Zeuss MSS. in the old Irish form 
sliab, which glosses mons. The word in the angli- 
cised form of slieve is applied to great numbers of 
the principal mountains in Ireland; and it is 
almost always followed by a limiting term, such 
as an adjective, or a noun in the genitive case. For 
example, Slieve Bernagh in the east of Clare, 
gapped mountain. 

This word is occasionally so very much disguised 
in modern names, that it is difficult to recognise 
it ; and of such names I will give a few examples. 
There is a mountain west of Lough Arrow in 
Sligo called Bricklieve, the proper Irish name of 
which is Breic-shliabh (Four Mast.), speckled 
mountain, and the s has disappeared by aspiration. 
The same thing occurs in FinlifE in Down, white 
mountain ; in Gk>rtinlieve in Donegal, the little 
field of the mountain ; and in Beglieve in Cavan, 
small mountain. The parish of Killevy in Armagh 
took its name from an old church situated at the 
foot of Slieve Ghillion, which the annalists usually 
call Cill-shleibhe, i. e. the church of the mountain ; 
the pronunciation of which is well preserved in 
the modern spelling. 

Sometimes the v sound is omitted altogether, 
and this often happens when the word comes in as 
a termination. Sleamaine in Wicklow is angli- 
cised from Sliabh-meadhoin, middle mountain ; 
Illaunslea in Kerry, the island of the mountain. 
Slemish in Antrim is well known as the mountain 
where St. Patrick passed his early days as a slave, 

880 Physical Feature*. [PART iv 

herding swine; the full Irish name is Sliabh-Mis, 
the mountain of Mis, a woman's name ; and there 
is another almost equally celebrated mountain in 
Kerry, of the same name, now called Slieve Mish, 
" the mountain of Mis, the daughter of Mureda, 
son of Cared " (Four Masters). 

In other cases both the s and v are lost, as for 
example in Crotlie or Cratlie, the name of several 
hills, Croit-shliabh, hump-backed mountain which 
in other places is made Cratlieve. In a great 
many cases the sound of s is changed to that of t 
by eclipse (p. 23), as in Ballintlea, the name of 
about fifteen townlands in the Munster and Leinster 
counties, Baik-an-tskibhe, the town of the moun- 
tain ; the same name as Ballintleva in Galway and 
Mayo, Ballintlevy in Westmeath, and Ballintlieve 
in Meath and Down ; and sometimes this t again 
is changed to c from the difficulty of pronouncing 
the combination tl, as in Ballinclea in the glen of 
Imail in Wicklow, which was so called from 
Ballinclea mountain rising over it. Baunatlea in 
the parish of Ballingaddy, Limerick, the lawn or 
green field of the mountain. 

The plural skibhte [sleaty] appears in Sleaty, a 
celebrated church giving name to a village and 
parish in Queen's County. There can be no doubt 
as to the original form and meaning of this name, 
as it is written Skibhte by all Irish authorities ; 
and Colgan translates it Monies, i. e. mountains. 
The name must have been originally given to the 
church from its contiguity to the hills of Slieve 
Margy, as Killevy was called so from its proximity 
to Slieve Gullion. 

Skibhin [slayveen], a diminutive of sliabh, is 
applied to a little hill ; in modern nomenclature 
it is usually made Sleveen, which is the name of a 
hill rising over Macroom in Cork, of a village in 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Rocks. 881 

Waterford, and of nine townlands chiefly in the 
southern counties. Slevin in Roscommon, is the 
same word ; and Slievinagee in the same county, 
signifies the little mountain of the wind (gaeth}. 

Cnoc signifies a hill ; its most common anglicised 
form is Knock, in which the k is usually silent, 
but in the original the first c, which the k repre- 
sents, was sounded \cnoc, pron. kUnnUck, the first 
u very short]. There is a conspicuous isolated 
hill near Ballingarry in Limerick, called Knock- 
fierna, a noted fairy haunt. It serves as a weather 
glass to the people of the circumjacent plains, 
who can predict with certainty whether the day 
will be wet or dry, by the appearance of the 
summit in the morning ; and hence the mountain 
is called Cnoc-firinne, the hill of truth, i. e. of 
truthful prediction. Knockea is the name of a hill 
near Grlenosheen, three miles south from Kilfinane 
in Limerick, and of several townlands, all of which 
are called in Irish Cnoc-Aedha, Aedh's or Hugh's 
hill, probably from some former proprietors. The 
well-known hill of Knocklayd in Antrim was so 
called from its shape, Cnoc-leithid [Knocklehid], 
literally the hill of breadth, i. e. broad hill. 

The diminutives Knockane, Knockaun, Knock- 
een, and Knickeen, with their plurals, form the 
names of more than seventy townlands, all so 
called from a " little hill." Ballyknockan and 
Ballyknockane, the town of the little hill, are the 
names of about twenty-five townlands; and the 
places called Knockauneevin in Galway and Cork 
are truly described by the name, Cnocan-aeibhinn 
beautiful little hill. 

Cnuic, the genitive of cnoc, is often made knick 
and nick in the present names, as the diminutive 
cnuicin is sometimes represented by Knickeen ; and 
these modern forms give correctly the pronuncia- 

382 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

tion of the originals except of course the silent 
.c. Thus Ballyknick in the parish of Grange, 
Armagh, which is the same as the very common 
name, Ballyknock, the town of the hill ; Tinnick 
in Wexford, and Ticknick or Ticknock on the 
side of the Three Rock mountain in Dublin, Tigh- 
cnuic, the house of the hill, which under the forms 
Ticknock and Tiknock, is the name of several 
townlands in the eastern counties. 

The word is still further modified by the change 
of n to r, already noticed (p. 50), which prevails 
chiefly in the northern half of Ireland, and which 
converts knock into crock or cruck. Crockacapple 
in the parish of Kilbarron, Donegal, means the 
hill of the horse (capall), and Crocknagapple near 
Killybegs, same county, the hill of the horses 
(Cnoc-na-gcapall) ; and these two names are the 
same respectively as Knockacappul and Knock- 
nagappul, which are found in other counties. 
Crockshane near Rathcoole in Dublin, John's hill ; 
Crockanure near Kildare, the hill of the yew-tree. 
The diminutives suffer this corruption also, and we 
find many places called Crockaun, Crickaun, Crock- 
een, Cruckeen, and Crickeen, all meaning little 
hill. The syllable Knock begins the names of 
about 1,800 townlands, and Crock of more than 

Beann [ban], genitive and plural beanna [banna], 
signifies a horn, a gable, a peak, or pointed hill; 
but it is often applied to any steep hill : cognate 
with Latin pinna. In anglicised names it is 
generally spelled ben or bin, each of which begins 
about thirty townland names ; but it undergoes 
various other modifications ; in Cork and Kerry 
it is often anglicised Beoun, to represent the 
southern pronunciation. 

Beann is not applied to great mountains so much 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Rocks. 383 

in Ireland as in Scotland, where they have Ben 
Lomond, Ben Nevis, Benledi, &c. ; but as applied 
to middle and smaller eminences, it is used very 
extensively. There is a steep hill in Westmeath, 
called the Ben (i. e. the peak) of Fore, from the 
village near its base ; the Irish name of Bengore 
Head in Antrim is Beann-gabhar, the peak of the 
goats ; the same as Bengour and Bengower in 
other places. Benburb, now the name of a village 
in Tyrone, the scene of the battle in 1646, was 
originally applied to the remarkable cliff over- 
hanging the Blackwater, on which the castle ruins 
now stand ; the Irish name as given in the annals 
is Beann-borb, which O'Sullivan Bear correctly 
translates Pinna superba, the proud peak. 

The Twelve Pins, a remarkable group of moun- 
tains in Connemara, derive their name from the 
same word ; Pins being a modification of Bens, 
They are commonly called " The Twelve Pins of 
Bunnabeola,'' in which the word beann occurs 
twice ; for Bunnabeola is Benna-Beola, the peaks 
of Beola. This Beola, who was probably an old 
Firbolg chieftain, is still vividly remembered in 
tradition ; and a remarkable person he must have 
been, for the place of his interment is also com- 
memorated, namely, Toombeola, Beola's tumulus, 
which is a townland south of the Twelve Pins, at 
the head of Houndstone bay, containing the ruins 
of an abbey. 

The adjective form beannach is applied to a hilly 
place a place full of bens or peaks ; and it has 
given name to Bannagh in Cork, and tor Benagh 
in Down and Louth. This word appears in 
Bannaghbane and Bannaghroe (white, red) in 
Monaghan ; and Aghavannagh, Irish Achadh- 
bheannach, hilly field, is the name of three town- 
lands in Wicklow. The plural, beanna, is found 

384 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

in Bannamore and Benamore in Tipperary, great 
peaks : and in the form Banna, it occurs several 
times in Kerry. Benbo, a conspicuous mountain 
near Manorhamilton, is written by the Four Mas- 
ters Beanna-bo, the peaks or horns of the cow ; it 
is so called in Irish, and it appears to have got the 
name from its curious double peak, bearing a rude 
resemblance to a cow's horns. 

The word assumes various other forms, and 
enters into many combinations, of which the 
following names will be a sufficient illustration. 
The old name of Dunmanway in Cork was Dun- 
na-mbeann [Dunnaman : Four Mast.], the fortress 
of the gables or pinnacles; and the name was 
probably derived from the ridge of rocks north of 
the town, or perhaps from the shape of the old dun. 
In a grant made in the time of Elizabeth, the 
place is called DouHiematimy, from which, as well 
indeed as from the tradition of the inhabitants, it 
appears that the last syllable way which must be 
a modern addition, as it does not appear in the 
older documents is a corruption of the Irish 
buidhe, yellow (b changed to w by aspiration ; p. 
19) : Dunmanway, the fortress of the yello-w 
pinnacles. Dunnaman, which is a correct angli- 
cised form of Dun-na-mbeann, is still the name of 
a townland in Down, and of another near Groom 
in Limerick. Ballyiwgour in Carlow, is in Irish, 
Baile-bheanna-gabhar, the town of the pinnacle of 
the goats, the latter part (-vangourj, being the 
same as Bengore in Antrim (see last page) ; 
Knockbine in Wexford, the hill of the peak; 
Dunnavenny in Londonderry, the fortress of the 

The word has several diminutive forms, the 
most common of which is beinnin [benneen], which 
gives name to several mountains now called Binnion 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and JRocks. 385 

or Bignion, i. e. small peak. Another diminutive 
beannacMn, appears in Meenavanaghan in Done- 
gal, the meen or mountain flat of the small peak. 

Beannchar or beannchor [banagher] is a modifi- 
cation of beann, and signifies horns, or pointed 
hills or rocks, and sometimes simply peaked hill ; 
it is a word of frequent topographical use in dif- 
ferent parts of Ireland, and it is generally anglicised 
banagher or bangor. Banagher in King's County 
(Beannchor, Four Mast.) is said to have taken its 
name from the sharp rocks in the Shannon ; and 
there are seven townlands in different counties 
bearing the same name. 

Bangor in Down is written Beannchar by various 
authorities, and Keating and others account for 
the name by a legend ; but the circumstance 
that there are so many Beannchars in Ireland 
renders this of no authority ; and there is a hill 
near the town, from which it is more likely that 
the place received its name. Coolbanagher or 
Whitechurch, a church giving name to a parish 
in Queen's County, where Aengus the Culdee be- 
gan his celebrated Felire (see p. 158), is written in 
Irish authorities, Cuil-beannchair, the angle or 
corner of the pinnacle. "There is a Lough 
Banagher (the lake of the pinnacles) in Donegal ; 
Drumbanagher in Armagh ; Movanagher on the 
Bann, parish of Kilrea, Deny (Magh-bheannchair, 
the plain of the pinnacles) ; and the ancient 
church of Ross-bennchuir (ross, a wood), placed by 
Archdall in the county of Clare " (.fteeves, Eccle- 
siastical Antiquities, p. 199, where the word beann- 
char is exhaustively discussed). 

Ard is sometimes a noun meaning a height or 

hill, and sometimes an adjective, signifying high; 

cognate with Lat. ardum. In both senses it enters 

extensively into Irish nomenclature ; it forma the 

VOL. i. 26 

386 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

beginning of about 650 townland names ; and there 
are at least as many more that contain it other- 
wise combined. 

There is a little town in "Waterford, and about 
twenty-six townlands in different counties, called 
Ardmore, great height ; but only two bear the 
correlative name, Ardbeg, little height. Ardglass 
in Down is called Ard-glas by the Four Masters, 
i. e. green height ; which is also a usual townland 
name ; and there are many places scattered over the 
country, called Ardkeen, that is, Ard-caein, beau- 
tiful height. Arderin in the Queen's County is 
the highest of the Slieve Bloom range ; and the 
inhabitants of the great central plain who gave it 
the name, signifying the height of Ireland, unac- 
customed as they were to the view of high moun- 
tains, evidently believed it to be one of the principal 
elevations in the country. 

When ard is followed by tighe [tee], a house, 
the final d is usually omitted ; as in Artif errall 
in Antrim, Ard-tig "he-Fear ghaill, the height of 
Farrell's house ; Artimacormick near Ballintoy, 
same county, the height of Mac Cormack's 
house, &c. 

This word has two diminutives, airdin and arddn 
[ardeen, ardaun] ; the former is not much in use, 
but it gives name to some places in Cork and 
Kerry, called Ardeen, and it forms a part of a few 
other names. The latter, under the different 
forms Ardan, Ardane, and Ardaun, all meaning 
little height or hillock, is by itself the name of 
several places in the midland counties; and it 
helps to form many others, such as Ardanreagh in 
Limerick, grey hillock ; and Killinardan near 
Tallaght in Dublin, the church or wood of the little 

Leath-v-vd flahard], which means literally half 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, HiUs, and Rocks 087 

height, is used topographically to denote a gently 
sloping eminence ; and the anglicised form Lahard, 
and the diminutives Lahardan, Lahardane, and 
Lahardaun, are the names of many places, chiefly 
in Connaught and Munster. Derrylahard, the 
oak-wood of the gentle hill, occurs near Skull in 
Cork ; and the same name, in the shortened form 
Derrylard, is found in the parish of Tartaraghan, 
Armagh. Aghalahard, the field (achadh] of the 
gentle hill. 

The word alt primarily denotes a height, cognate 
with Lat. altus ; it occurs in Cormac's Glossary, 
where it is derived " ab altitudine : " in its present 
topographical application it is generally under- 
stood to mean a cliff, or the side of a glen. It is 
pretty generally spread throughout the country, 
forming the first syllable of about 100 townland 
names, which are distributed over the four pro- 
vinces. Alt stands alone as the name of some places 
in Mayo and Donegal ; and Alts (heights or glen 
sides) occurs in Monaghan. Altachullion in Cavan 
is the cliff of the holly ; in Limerick and Queen's 
County we have Altavilla Alt-a'-bhile, the glen 
side of the old tree ; Altinure in Derry and Cavan, 
the cliff of the yew : Altnagapple, height of the 

There is a place in the parish of Tulloghobegly, 
Donegal, called Altan, little cliff ; and the plural 
Altans occurs in Sligo. Altanagh in Tyrone signi- 
fies a place abounding in cliffs and glens. In the 
end of names, this word is sometimes made alia, 
and sometimes ilt, representing two forms of the 
genitive, alia and ailt, as we see in Lissanalta in 
Limerick, the fort of the height ; and Tonanilt 
in Cavan, the backside of the cliff. 

The primary meaning of crunch is a rick OT 
stack, such as a stack of corn or hay ; but in an 

388 Physical Features. [PART TV. 

extended sense, it is applied to hills, especially 
to those presenting a round, stacked, or piled up 
appearance ; Welsh crug, a heap ; Cornish cruc. 
It is used pretty extensively as a local term, 
generally in the forms Croagh or Crogh ; and 
the diminutive Cruachan is still more common, 
giving names to numerous mountains, townlands, 
and parishes, called Croaghan, Croaghaun, Croghan, 
and Crohane, all originally applied to a round- 
shaped hill. Cruachdn was the original name of 
the village of Crookhaven on the south coast of 
Cork ; the present name signifying the haven of 
the cruach or round-hill. 

Croghan hill in King's County, was anciently 
called Bri-Eile, the hill of Eile, daughter of 
Eochy Feileach, and sister of Maive, queen of 
Connaught in the first century (see p. 127, supra] ; 
it afterwards received the name of Cruachan, and 
in the annals it is sometimes called Cruachan-Bri- 
Eile, which looks tautological, as Cruachan and 
Bri both signify a hill. Croaghan near Killashan- 
dra in Cavan, the inauguration place of the 
O'Rourkes, is often mentioned in the Irish au- 
thorities by two names CruacJian O'Cuproin, 
O'Cupron's round-hill, and Cruachan-Mic-Tighear- 
nain, from the Mac Tighearnans or Mac Kiernans, 
the ancient possessors of the barony of Tullyhunco, 
the chief of whom had his residence there. The 
word is somewhat disguised in Ballycrogue, the 
name of a parish in Carlow, the same as Bally- 
croghan near Bangor in Down, only that in the 
latter the diminutive is used. Kilcruaig, a town- 
land near Ballyorgan in the south-east of Limerick, 
obviously got its name, which means the church 
of the round-hill, from the detached mountain now 
called Carrigeenamronety, on whose side the place 
in question lies. 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Hocks. 389 

Tulach, a little hill a hillock ; often written 
tealach in old documents. It occurs in Cormac's 
Glossary, where it is given as the equivalent of 
bri. It is anglicised Tulla, Tullow, and Tullagh, 
but most commonly Tully (see p. 33). Tullanavert 
near Clogher in Tyrone represents Tulach-na- 
bhfeart, the hill of the graves ; Tullaghacullion 
near Killybegs, Tullaghcullion near Donegal, and 
Tullycullion in Tyrone, the hill of the holly. The 
parish of Tully near Kingstown in Dublin was 
anciently called Tulach-na-nespuc, which signifies 
the hill of the bishops ; and according to the Life 
of St. Brigid, it received its name from seven 
bishops who lived there, and on one occasion 
visited the saint at Kildare (O'Curry, Lect., p. 
382). Tullymongan, the name of two townlands 
near Cavan, was originally applied to the hill over 
the town, now called Gallows Hill ; the Four 
Masters call it Tulach Mbngain, the hill of Mongan, 
a man's name. 

The parish of Kiltullagh in Roscommon was so 
called from an old church, the name of which 
perfectly describes its situation Cill-tulaigh, the 
church of the hill ; and the parish of Kiltullagh in 
Galway, near Athenry, is called cill-tulach (church 
of the little hills) in " Hy Many." In the Munster 
counties, the g in tulaigh, is pronounced hard, 
giving rise to a new form Tullig, which is found 
in the names of many places, the greater number 
being in Cork and Kerry. 

There are two diminutive forms in use, tuldn 
and tulachdn. From the former comes Tullen in 
Roscommon, Tullin near Athlone, and Tullans 
near Coleraine ; but the other is more common, 
and gives origin to Tullaghan, Tullaghaun, and 
Tullaghans (little hills), found in several counties 
as the names of townlands and villages. The wo^d 

390 Physical Features. L FART 1V 

is sometimes spelled in Irish tealach [tallagh], 
which orthography is often adopted by the Four 
Masters ; this form appears in the name of Tallow, 
a town in Waterford, which is called in Irish 
Tealach-an-iarainn [Tallowanierin], the hill of the 
iron, from the iron mines worked there by the 
great earl of Cork. 

Bri [bree], signifies a hill or rising- ground, the 
same as the Scotch word brae ; in Cormac's Glos- 
sary it is explained by tulach ; Cornish and Breton, 
brc ; Gaulish, brega, briga. The word occurs fre- 
quently as a topographical term in our ancient 
writings, of which Bri-Eile (p. 388), is an example. 
Brigown, a village near Mitchelstown in Cork, 
once a celebrated ecclesiastical establishment, 
where are still to be seen the remains of a very 
ancient church, is called in Irish, Bri-gobhunn 
(Book of Lismore : gobha, a smith), the hill of the 
smith. In our present names this word does not 
occur very often ; it is found simply in the form 
of Bree in Donegal, Monaghan, and Wexford ; 
while in Tyrone it takes the form of Brigh. 

Bray, which is the name of several places in 
Ireland, is another form of the same word. Bray 
in Wicklow is called Bree in old church records 
and other documents ; and it evidently received 
its name from Bray head, which rises abruptly 
793 feet over the sea. In the Dinnsenchus there 
is a legendary account of the origin of the name 
of this place, viz., that it was so called from 
Brea, son of Seanboth, one of Parthalon's fol- 
lowers, who first introduced single combat into 
Ireland (see p. 161). The steep promontory on 
the south-western extremity of Valentia island 
is also called Bray head. At the head of Glencree 
in Wicklow is a small mountain lake, well known 
to Dublin excursionists, called Lough Bray, whose 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Rocks. 391 

name was, no doubt, derived from the rocky 
point a spur of Kippure mountain which rises 
perpendicularly over its gloomy waters. 

Lagh [law] a hill, cognate with Ang.-Sax. law, 
same meaning. It is not given in the diction- 
aries, but it undoubtedly exists in the Irish 
language, and has given names to a considerable 
number of places through the country, of which 
the following may be taken as examples : 

Portlaw on the Suir in Waterford took ita 
name from the steep hill at the head of the village 
Portlagha, the bank or landing-place of the 
hill ; there are some townlands in Kilkenny and 
the Munster counties called Ballinla and Ballin- 
law, the town of the hill ; Luggelaw in Wicklow, 
the lug or hollow of the hill, the name of the 
valley in which is situated the beautiful Lough 
Tay ; Clonderalaw in Cork and Clare, the meadow 
between the two hills. 

O'Brien explains ceide [keady] "a hillock, a 
compact kind of hill, smooth and plain at the top ; " 
and this is the sense in which it is understood at 
the present day, wherever it is understood at all 
The Four Masters write it ceideach, when men- 
tioning Keadydrinagh in Sligo, which they call 
Ceideach-droighneach, the flat- topped hill of the 
black- thorns. The word is not in very general 
use, and is almost confined to the northern and 
north-western counties ; but in these it gives 
name to a considerable number of places now 
called Keadew and Keady. It takes the forms of 
Keadagh, Cady, and Caddagh, in several counties ; 
the diminutive Keadeen is the name of a high hill 
east of Baltinglass in Wicklow, and another modi- 
fication, Cadian, occurs in Tyrone. 

Mullach, in its primary meaning, signifies the 
top or summit of anything such as the top of a 

392 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

house. Topographically it is generally used to 
denote smaller eminences, though we find it oc- 
casionally applied to hills of considerable elevation ; 
and as a root word, it enters very extensively into 
the formation of names, generally in the forms 
Mulla, Mullagh, Mully, and Mul, which consti- 
tute of themselves, or form the beginning of, 
upwards of 400 names. 

Mulla is well known as the name given by the 
poet Spenser to the little river Awbeg, which 
flows by Kilcolman castle, where he resided, near 
Buttevant in Cork : 

" Strong Allo tombling from Slewlogher steep, 
^hose waves I whilom ta 
" Faerie Queene," Book 

And Mulla mine whose waves I whilom taught to weep. " 

IV., Canto xi. 

In another place he says that Kilnamulla (now 
Buttevant), took its name from the Mulla : 

* It giveth name unto that ancient cittie, 
Which Kilnemulla clepped is of old. " 

But this is all the creation of the poet's fertile 
imagination ; for the Awbeg was never called 
Mulla except by Spenser himself, and Kilnamul- 
lagh, the native name of Buttevant, has a very 
different origin (see Bregoge in 2nd Vol.). 

The peasantry of the locality understand Kilna- 
mullagh to mean the church of the curse [mallacht], 
in connection with which they relate a strange 
legend ; but the explanation is erroneous, and the 
legend an invention of later times. At the year 
1251, the Four Masters, in recording the founda- 
tion of the monastery, call it Cill-na-mullach, 
which 'Sullivan, in his history of the Irish 
Catholics, translates ecclesia tumulorum, the church 
of the hillocks or summits, and the name admits 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Rocks. 393 

of no other interpretation. The present name 
Buttevant is said to have been derived from 
Boutez-en-avant, a French phrase meaning " Push 
forward ! " the motto of the Barrymore family. 

The village of Mullagh in Cavan got its name 
from the hill near it, which the Four Masters call 
Mullach-Laeighill, the hill of Laeighett or Lyle, a 
man's name formerly common in Ireland. Mul- 
laghattin near Carlingford, the hill of the furze ; 
Mullaghsillogagh near Enniskillen, the hill of the 
sallows ; Mullaghmeen, smooth summit. Mul, 
the shortened form, appears in Mulboy in Tyrone, 
yellow summit ; and in Mulkeeragh in Derry, the 
summit of the sheep. 

Muttan, little summit, is a diminutive of muttach, 
and it is generally applied to the top of a low, 
gently sloping hill. In the forms Mullan, Mul- 
laun, and in the plural Mullans and Mullauns, it 
is the name of nearly forty townlands, and of 
course helps to form many others. Q-lassavullaun 
near Tallaght in Dublin, represents G-laise-a'- 
mhullain, the streamlet of the little summit ; and 
Mullanagore in Monaghan, and Mullanagower in 
Wexford, signify the little eminence of the goats. 
In Carlow, Wicklow, and Wexford, this word is 
understood to mean simply a green field ; but it 
has evidently undergone a change of meaning, 
the transition being sufficiently easy from a gentle 
green hill to a green field. Mulkaun in Leitrim, 
exhibits another diminutive, namely, muledn or 
mullachdn which also appears in Meenawullaghan 
in the parish of Inver, Donegal, the meen or 
mountain flat of the little summit ; and in Meena- 
mullaghan, parish of Lower Fahan, same county, 
Nm-na-muttachan, the mountain flat of the little 

lomaire [ummera] signifies a ridge or hill-back ; 

394 Physical Features. [ PART iv. 

as a local term it is found in each of the four 
provinces, being, however, more common in Ulster 
and Connaught than in the other provinces ; but 
in any part of Ireland it does not enter exten- 
sively into names. Its most common modern 
forms are Ummera, Ummery, and Umry, which 
form or begin the names of more than twenty 

Ummeracam in Armagh, and Umrycam in 
Donegal and Derry, are called in Irish lomaire- 
cam, crooked ridge ; Ummeraboy in Cork, yellow 
ridge ; Ummerafree in Monaghan, the ridge of 
the heath; Killanummery, a townland giving 
name to a parish in Leitrim, is called by the 
Four Masters Cill-an-iomaire, the church of the 
ridge, and the word is somewhat altered in Clon- 
amery in Kilkenny, the meadow of the ridge. 

The primary meaning of meall [mal] is a lump, 
mass, or heap of anything ; and it is applied 
locally to a small round hillock. It does not occur 
very often except in Munster, where it is met 
with pretty extensively ; its most usual anglicised 
form is maul, which begins the names of near 
sixty townlands, all in Cork and Kerry. Take for 
example, Maulanimirish and Maulashangarry, both 
near Dunmanway, the first meaning the hillock 
of the contention (imreas), and the second, of the 
old garden (sean, old ; garrdha, a garden). Mau- 
lagh near Killarney signifies a place abounding in 

Millin [milleen] is a diminutive of this word, 
usually represented in the present names by Mil- 
leen, which forms the whole or the beginning of 
fifteen townland names, all except one in Cork ; 
Milleennahorna has the same meaning as Maulna- 
horna, the hillock of the barley (eorna}. Near 
Rathcormack, there is a place called Maulane, the 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Rocks. 395 

only example I find of the diminutive in an. In 
anglicised names it is often difficult to distin- 
guish this word from mael and its modifications, 
as both often assume the same form. 

Mael [mwail or moyle] as an adjective signifies 
bald, bare, or hornless ; and it is often employed 
as a noun to denote anything having these shapes 
or qualities. It is, for instance, applied to a cow 
without horns, which in almost every part of 
Ireland is called a mael or mweelleen. It is also 
used synonymously with giolla, to denote in a re- 
ligious sense, a person having the head shorn or 
tonsured ; it was often prefixed to the name of a 
saint, and the whole compound used to denote a 
person devoted to such a saint ; and as a mark of 
reverence this kind of name was often given to 
men at their baptism, which originated such sur- 
names as Mulholland, Mulrony, Molony, Mulrenin, 
Malone, &c. 

It is applied to a church or building of any 
kind that is either unfinished or dilapidated most 
commonly the latter ; thus Templemoyle, the bald 
or dilapidated church, is the name of some places 
in Derry, Galway, and Donegal; there are five 
townlands in Antrim and one in Longford called 
Kilinoyle which have the same meaning ; Kilmoyle 
near Ballymoney is in Latin records translated 
Eccksia calva, which gives the exact sense. And 
Castlemoyle, bald castle, occurs in Galway, Wex- 
f ord, and Tipperary. The word is used to desig- 
nate a moat or mound flat on top, or dilapidated 
by having the materials carted away ; and hence we 
have such names as Rathmoyle, Lismoyle, and 

Mael is applied to hills and promontories, and 
in this sense it is very often employed to form 
local names. Moyle, one of its usual forms, and 
the plural Moyles, gives names to several places 

396 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

in the middle and northern counties; Knock- 
moyle, a usual townland name, bald hill. In the 
south and west it often assumes the form mweel, 
which preserves the pronunciation more nearly 
than moyle : thus Mweelahorna near Ardmore in 
"Waterford, the bald hill of the barley; and in 
Fermanagh, also, this form is found in Mweelbane, 
white hill. It sometimes takes the form of meel, 
as in Meelshane in Cork, John's bald hill ; Meel- 
garrow in Wexf ord, rough hill (garbh, rough) ; Meel- 
drum near Kilbeggan in "Westmeath, bare ridge. 

There are two diminutives in pretty common 
use, maeldn and maeilin [mweelaun, mweeleen] ; 
the former is often applied to round-backed islands 
in the sea, or to round bare rocks ; and we find ac- 
cordingly several little islands off the south and 
west coast, called Moylaun, Moylan, and Mwee- 
laun. The same word is seen in Meelon near Bandon, 
and Milane, near Dunmanway, both in Cork ; and 
in Mellon near where the Maigue joins the 
Shannon in Limerick. The second diminutive is 
more frequent, and it is spelled in various ways ; 
it is found as Moyleen and Mweeleen in Galway, 
Kerry, and Mayo; Mweeling near Ardmore in 
Waterford ; and Meeleen in the parish of Kil- 
quane, Cork. 

Meelaghans near Geashill in King's County 
(little bare hills), exhibits another diminutive, 
Maelachdn ; and we have still another in Milligan 
in Monaghan, and Milligans in Fermanagh, little 
hills. Mealough is the name of a townland in 
the parish of Drumbo, Down, meaning either a 
round hill or a place abounding in hillocks. In 
Scotland, the word mael is often used, as for in- 
stance in the Mull of Galloway and the Mull of 
Cantire ; in both instances the word Mull signi- 
fying a bare headland. From the Mull of Can- 
tire, the sea between Ireland and Scotland was 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Rocks. 397 

anciently called the "Sea-stream of Moyle;'' and 
Moore has adopted the last name in his charming 
song, " Silent, O Moyle, be the roar of thy water." 

Mael combines with the Irish preposition for, 
forming the compound formael, which is used to 
signify a round-hill ; and which, in the forms 
Formoyle, Fermoyle, and Formil, constitutes the 
names of twenty- nine townlands, scattered through 
the four provinces ; in Meath it is made Formal, 
and in Galway it retains the more Irish form, 
Formweel. This name occurs twice in the Four 
Masters; first at A.D. 965, where a battle is re- 
corded to have been fought at Formaeil of Rathbeg, 
which O'Donovan identifies with Formil in the 
parish of Lower Bodoney, Tyrone ; and secondly, 
at 1051, where mention is made of Slieve-Formoyle, 
which was the ancient name of Slieve-O'Flynn, 
west of Castlerea in Roscommon. 

The word cor, as a topographical term, has several 
meanings, the most common being a round-hill ; 
but it is also applied to a round pit or cup-like 
hollow, to a turn or bend, such as the bend of a 
road, &c. ; and as an adjective, it means odd, and 
also round. In consequence of this diversity, it is 
often difficult to determine its exact sense ; and 
to add to the complexity, the word corr, a crane, 
is liable to be confounded with it. 

This word is used very extensively in local no- 
menclature ; and in its various senses it forms the 
first syllable of more than 1,000 townland names, 
in the greater number of which it means a round 
hill. Corbeagh in Longford and Cavan is in 
Irish, Cor-beitheach, the round- hill of the birch ; 
Corkeeran in Monaghan, of the keerans or rowan- 
trees ; Cornagee and Cornageeha, the hill of the 
wind ; Cornaveagh, of the ravens (fiacK). The 
diminutives Corrog and Corroge, give names to 

398 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

some places in Down and Tipperary ; and we find 
Correen in several of the north-western counties ; 
Correenfeeradda near Knockainy in Limerick, is 
called in Irish, Coirm-feir-ffiada, the round-hill of 
the long grass. 

Cruit means a hump on the back ; from this it 
is applied to round humpy -looking hills ; and it is 
commonly represented by Crott, Crut, or Grit, 
which are the names of places in Fermanagh, 
Longford, Mayo, and Kilkenny. There is an 
island called Cruit off the coast of Donegal, i. e. 
humpy-backed island ; and two townlands in 
King's County and Roscommon are called by the 
same name. The plural Crotta, or Crutta, humps, 
and the English plural Crottees, give names to 
Borne places in Kerry, Tipperary, and Cork ; and 
Crottan, little hump, occurs in Fermanagh. 

The word is variously combined to form other 
names : such as Kilcruit in Carlow, the wood of 
the hump-backed hill ; Loughcrot near Dromda- 
league in Cork, the lake of the hillocks ; Druma- 
cruttan in Monaghan, and Drumacrittin in 
Fermanagh, the ridge of the little hump ; Barna- 
grotty in King's County, Barr-na-gcrotta, the 
hill-top of the hummocks. 

Cnap [knap, c pronounced as in cnoc, p. 382] is 
a button, a knob, a lump of anything, a knot in 
timber, &c. ; and it is cognate with Ang-Sax. cnaep, 
Ger. knopf, Eng. knob. In a secondary sense it 
is applied to small round hillocks, and gives 
names to a considerable number of places. In 
anglicised names it takes various forms, such as 
knap, nap, &c. ; and in the northern counties, it 
becomes crap and crup, just as knock becomes crock 
(see p. 51). The diminutives in 6g and an occur 
of tener than the original ; Knoppoge, little knob 
or hill, is the name of thirteen townlands in Cork, 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Rocks. 399 

Kerry, and Clare; and in the slightly different 
form Knappoge, it occurs twice in Longford, and 
once in Clare. 

There are many places in the northern and 
north-western counties, called Knappagh, which 
represents the Irish cnapach, hilly land a place 
full of knobs or hillocks ; Nappagh near Ardagh 
in Longford, is the same name, but it has lost the 
k ; and the same thing has happened in Nappan 
in Antrim, which is the diminutive Cnapan, a little 
hillock ; in this last place is an old burial-ground 
called Killycrappin (cill-a' -cnapain : see Reeves, 
Eccl. Ant., p. 87), which preserves the name in 
another form. In the following names the n is 
changed to r : Crappagh in Monaghan and 
Gralway, which is the same name as Knappagh ; 
Crippaun in Kildare, the same as Nappan in 
Antrim; Carrickcroppan in Armagh, Carraig- 
cnapain, the rock of the little hillock ; and Lisna- 
croppan in Down, the fort of the hillock. 

Tor signifies a tower, and corresponds to Latin 
turris. Although the word properly means an 
artificial tower, yet in many parts of Ireland, as 
for instance in Donegal, it is applied to a tall rock 
resembling a tower, without any reference to an 
artificial structure. It is pretty common as form- 
ing part of names, and its derivatives occur 
oftener than the original. Toralt in Fermanagh, 
signifies the tower of the alt or cliff; Tormore, 
great tower, is the name of several islands, of one 
for instance off the coast of Donegal ; Tornaroy 
in Antrim is the king's tower ; and in the parish 
of Culfeightrin, same county, there are five town- 
lands whose names begin with Tor. In some few 
cases, especially in the central counties, the 
syllable tor may have been corrupted from tuar, 
a bleach -green ; but the physical aspect of the 

400 Physical Features. [PA in- iv. 

place will generally determine which is the cor- 
rect root. 

Tory Island, off the coast of Donegal, is known 
in ancient writings by two distinct names, Toirinis 
and Torach, quite different in meaning, but both 
derived from tor. This island is mentioned in 
our bardic histories as the stronghold of the 
Fomorian pirates (see p. 162), and called in these 
documents Toir-inis, the island of the tower ; and 
according to all our traditional accounts, it re- 
ceived this name from Tor-Conaing or Conang's 
tower, a fortress famous in Irish legend, and 
called after Conang, a Fomorian chief. 

In many other ancient authorities, such as the 
Life of St. Columbkille, "The Wars of GG-.," &c., 
it is called Torach ; and the present name Tory, 
is derived from an oblique case of this form 
(Toraigh, pron. Torry : see p. 33, supra}. The 
island abounds in lofty isolated rocks which are 
called tors or towers ; and the name Torach means 
simply towery abounding in tors or tower-like 
rocks. The intelligent Irish- speaking natives of 
the Donegal coast give it this interpretation ; and 
no one can look at the island from the mainland, 
without admitting that the name is admirably 
descriptive of its appearance. 

Tortdn, a diminutive of tor, forms a part of 
several modern names, and it is applied to a small 
knoll or tummock, or a high turf -bank. It gives 
name to Turtane in Carlow, to Toortane in Queen's 
County, Waterf ord, and "Kilkenny, and to Tartan 
in Roscommon. 

Fornocht is a bare, naked, or exposed hill. It 
gives name to a parish in Kildare, now called 
Forenaghts, in which the plural form has pre- 
vailed, very probably in consequence of the 
subdivision of the original townland into two 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Rocks. 401 

parts. There are also several townlands called 
Fornaght in Cork and Waterf ord ; and Farnaght, 
another modern form, is the name of some places 
in Fermanagh and the Connaught counties. 

Cabhdn [cavan] means a hollow or cavity, a 
hollow place, a hollow field ; and this is undoubt- 
edly its primary meaning, for it is evidently 
cognate with Lat. cavea, Fr. caban, Welsh cabane, 
and Eng. cabin. Yet in some parts of Ulster it is 
understood to mean the very reverse, viz., a round 
dry hill ; and this is the meaning given to it by 
O'Donnell in his Life of St. Columba, who trans- 
lates it collis (Eeeves, Colt. Vis. 133). This 
curious discrepancy is probably owing to a gradual 
change of meaning, similar to the change in the 
words lug, mullan, &c. Which of the two mean- 
ings it bears in each particular case, depends of 
course on the physical confirmation of the place. 
In its topographical application this word is con- 
fined to the northern half of Ireland, and is more 
frequent in the Ulster counties than elsewhere ; 
its universal anglicised form is cavan. 

The town of Cavan is well described by ita 
name, for it stands in a remarkable hollow; 
Racavan, the name of a parish in Antrim, is Rath- 
cabhain, the fort of the hollow. There are more 
than twenty townlands called Cavan, and the 
word begins the names of about seventy others. 
In the counties of Tyrone, Donegal, and Armagh, 
there are several places called Cavanacaw, which 
represents the Irish Cabhan-a'-chdtha, the round- 
hill of the chaff, from the custom of winnowing 
corn on the top ; Cavanaleck near Enniskillen, 
the hill of the flagstone or stony surface. Tht 
word cabhanach is an adjective formation from 
cabhan, and means a place abounding in round- 
hills ; in the modern form Cavanagh it is found in 
VOL. i. 27 

402 Physical Features. |_PAKT iv. 

Cavan and Fermanagh ; and in Monaghan, the 
same word occurs under the form Cavany. 

Eiscir [esker] means a ridge of high land, but 
it is generally applied to a sandy ridge, or a line 
of low sand-hills. It enters pretty extensively 
into local names, but it is more frequently met 
with across the -middle of Ireland than in either 
the north or south. It usually takes the form of 
Esker, which by itself is the name of more than 
thirty townlands, and combines to form the names 
of many others ; the word is somewhat altered in 
Garrisker, the name of a place in Kildare, signi- 
fying short sand-ridge. 

The most celebrated esker in Ireland is Esker- 
Riada, a line of gravel-hills extending with little 
interruption across Ireland, from Dublin to Clarin- 
Bridge in Galway, which was fixed upon as the 
boundary between the north and south halves of 
Ireland, when the country was divided, in the 
second century, between Owen More and Conn of 
the Hundred Battles (see p. 134). 

As a termination, this word assumes other 
forms, all derived from the genitive eiscreach 
[eskera]. Clashaniskera in Tipperary is called in 
Irish Clais-an-eiscreach, the trench or pit of the 
sand-hill. Ahascragh in Galway signifies the 
ford of the esker ; but its full name as given by 
the Four Masters is Ath-eascrach Cuain [Ahascra 
Cuan], the ford of St. Cuan's sand-hill ; and they 
still retain the memory of St. Cuan, the patron, 
who is commemorated in O'Clery's Calendar at the 
15th of October; Tiranascragh, the name of a 
townland and parish in Galway, the land of the 
esker. Eskeragh and Eskragh are the names of 
several townlands in the Ulster and Connaught 
counties, the Irish Eiscreach signifying a place full 
of eskers or sand-hills. 

CHAT, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Rocks. 403 

Tiompan is generally understood, when used 
topographically, to mean a small abrupt hill, and 
sometimes a standing stone ; it occurs as a portion 
of a few townland names, and it does not appear 
to be confined to any particular part of the country. 
It is pronounced Timpan in the north, and Tim- 
paun in the south and west, and modernised ac- 
cordingly ; the former being the name of a place 
in the parish of Layd, Antrim, and the latter of 
another in Roscommon. In the townland of 
Heanadimpaun, parish of Seskinan, Waterford, 
there is an ancient monument consisting of a 
number of pillar-stones, which has given name 
to the townland Reidh-na-dtiompan, the rea or 
mountain-flat of the standing stones. The word 
is slightly varied in Tempanroe (roe, red) in 
Tyrone ; and Timpany in the same county is from 
Tiompanach, a place full of timpans or hillocks. 
Craigatempin near Ballymoney, Antrim, is the 
rock of the hillock ; and Curraghnadimpaun in 
Kilkenny, the curragh or marsh of the little hills. 
The word learg [larg] signifies the side or slope 
of a hill ; it is used in local names, but not so often 
as leargaidh [largy], a derivative from it, with the 
same meaning. Largy, the most usual modernised 
form, is found only in the northern half of Ireland, 
and is almost confined to Ulster ; it gives names 
to many townlands, both by itself and in com- 
bination. Largysillagh and Largynagreana are 
the names of two places near Killybegs in Donegal, 
the former signifying the hill- side of the sallows, 
and the latter, sunny hill- slope, from its southern 
aspect. The diminutive Largan, meaning still the 
same thing, is also of very common occurrence as 
a townland name, both singly and compounded 
with other words ; Larganreagh in Donegal, grey 

404 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

Leitir [letter]. According to Peter O'Connell, 
this word means the side of a hill, a steep ascent 
or descent, a cliff; and O'Donovan translates it 
" hill-side," " wet or spewy hill-side," " hill-side 
with the tricklings of water," &c. It is still under- 
stood in this sens-s in the west of Connaught ; and 
that this is its real meaning is further shown by 
the Welsh llethr, which signifies a slope. In 
Cormac's Glossary it is thus explained : " Leitir, 
i. e. leth tirim agus leth flinch ; " " leitir, i. e. half 
dry and half wet ; " from which it appears that 
Cormac considered it derived from leth-tirim, half- 
dry. This corresponds, so far as it goes, with 
present use. 

This word is often found in ancient authorities, 
as forming the names of places. At 1584, the 
Four Masters mention an island called Leitir- 
Meallain Meallan's letter or hill-side, which lies off 
the Connemara coast, and is still called Letter- 
mullen. Latteragh in Tipperary is very often 
mentioned in the annals and Calendars, and always 
called Letrecha-Odhrain (Latraha-Oran : O'Cler. 
Cal.), Odhran's wet hill-slopes. St. Odhran [Oran], 
the patron, who is commemorated in the Calendar 
at the 26th of November, died, according to the 
Four Masters, in the year 548. Other modifi- 
cations of the plural (leatracha, pron. latraha) are 
seen in Lettera and Letteragh, the names of places 
in various counties ; Lattery in Armagh ; and 
Lettery in Gal way and Tyrone ; all meaning " wet 
hill-slopes." Lettreen, little letter, occurs in Ros- 
common ; and another diminutive, Letteran, in 

A considerable number of places derive their 
names from this word, especially in the western 
half of Ireland, where it prevails much more than 
elsewhere ; I have not found it at all towards the 

CHAP. i.J Mountains, Sills, and Hocks 405 

eastern coast. Its most usual form is Letter, which 
is by itself the name of about twenty-six town- 
lands, and forms the beginning of about 120 
others. Letterbrick in Donegal and Mayo is 
Leitir-bruic, the hill-side of the badger ; Letter- 
brock, of the badgers ; Lettershendony in Deny, 
the old man's hill-side ; Letterkeen in Fermanagh 
and Mayo, beautiful letter ; Letterlicky in Cork 
the hill-side of the flag-stone or flag-surfaced land ; 
Lettergeeragh in Longford, of the sheep; and 
Lettermacaward in Donegal, the hill- slope of Mac 
Ward or the son of the bard. 

Rinn means the point of anything, such as the 
point of a spear, &c. ; in its local application, it 
denotes a point of land, a promontory, or small 
peninsula. O'Brien says in his dictionary : " It 
would take up more than a whole sheet to mention 
all the neck-lands of Ireland, whose names begin 
with this word Rinn." It is found pretty ex- 
tensively in names in the forms Rin, Rinn, Reen, 
Rine, and Ring ; and these constitute or begin 
about 170 townland names. 

Names containing this word are often found in 
Irish authorities. In the county Roscommon, on 
the western shore of Lough Ree, is a small penin- 
sula about a mile in length, now called St. John's 
or Randown, containing the ruins of a celebrated 
castle ; there must have been originally a dun on 
the point, for the ancient name as given in the 
annals is Rinnduin, the peninsula of the dun or 
fortress. The ancient name of Island Magee, a 
peninsula near Larne, was Rinn-Seimhne [Rin- 
Sevne], from the territory in which it was situated, 
which was called Seimhne; in the taxation of 
1306 it is called by its old name, in the anglicised 
form Ransevyn. Ifc received its present name from 
its ancient proprietors, the Mac Aedhas or Magees, 

406 Physical Feature. [PART iv. 

not one of whose descendants is now living there. 
(See Reeves, Eccl. Ant., pp. 58, 270). 

In the parish of Kilcomy, Clare, is a point of 
land jutting into the Shannon, called Rineanna, 
which the Four Masters call Rinn-eanaigh, the 
point of the marsh ; there is an island in Lough 
Ree called Rinanny, and a townland in Mayo, 
called Rinanagh, both of which are different forms 
of the same name. Ringcurran is a peninsula 
forming a modern parish near Kinsale ; it is a 
place very often mentioned in the annals, and its 
Irish name is Rinn-chorrain, which Philip O'Sulli- 
van Bear correctly translates, cuspis falcis, the 
point of the reaping-hook, so called from its shape. 
It is curious that the same sickle shape has given 
the name of Curran to a little peninsula near 
Larne. On a point of land near Kinsale, are the 
ruins of Ringrone castle, the old seat of the 
De Courcys ; the name, which properly belongs 
to the little peninsula on which the castle stands, 
is written in the annals of Innisfallen, Rinn-roin, 
the point of the seal. The little promontory be- 
tween the mouths of the rivers Ouvane and Coom- 
hola near Bantry, is called Reenadisert, the point 
of the wilderness or hermitage, a name which is 
now applied to a ruined castle, a stronghold of the 
O'Sullivans. The next peninsula, lying a mile 
southward, is called Reenydonagan, O'Donagan's 

Ring stands alone as the name of many places 
in different counties, in all cases meaning a point 
of land ; Ringaskiddy near Spike Island in Cork, 
is Skiddy's point. I think it very probable that 
the point of land between the mouth of the river 
Dodder and the sea, gave name to Ringsend near 
Dublin, the second syllable being English : 
Ringsend, i. e. "the end of the Rinn or point. There 

CHAP. T.] Mountains, Hills, and Hocks. 407 

is a parish forming a peninsula near Dungarvan 
in Waterford, called Bingagonagh in Irish, Rinn- 
0-g Guana, the point of the O'Cooneys. 

Ringville in Waterford, though it looks English, 
is an Irish name, Rinn-bhile, the point of the bile 
or ancient tree ; this is also the name of two town- 
lands in Cork and Kilkenny; and Ringvilla in 
Fermanagh, is still the same. There is a little 
peninsula in Galway, opposite Inishbofin island, 
called Rinville, and another of the same name, 
with a village on it, projecting into Galway bay, 
east of Galway ; both are written in our authori- 
ties, Rinn-Mhil, the point of Mil ; and according 
to Mac Firbis, they were so called from Mil, an 
old Firbolg chief. '' Ringhaddy is a part of 
Killinchy parish in Down, lying in Strangford 
Lough. It was originally an island ; but having 
been from time immemorial united to the mainland 
by a causeway, it represents on the map the ap- 
pearance of an elongated neck of land, running 
northwards into the Lough. Hence, probably, 
the name Rinn-fhada, the long point." (Reeves, 
Eccl. Ant. p. 9). In the same county there is a 
townland called Ringfad, which is another modi- 
fication of the same name. 

Reen is another form of this word, which is 
confined to Cork, Kerry, and Limerick, but in these 
counties it occurs very often, especially on the 
coasts. Rinn and Rin are more common in the 
western and north-western counties than else- 
where ; as in Rinrainy island near Dunglow in 
Donegal, the point of the ferns. In Clare the 
word is pronounced Rine, and anglicised accord- 
ingly ; Rinecaha in the parish of Kilkeedy, sig- 
nifies the point of the chaff or winnowing. The 
diminutive Rinneen, little point, is the name of 
several tow^lands in Galway, Clare, and Kerry. 

408 Physical Features. [PART TV. 

Stuaic [stook] is applied to a pointed pinnacle, 
or a projecting point of rock. Although the word 
is often used to designate projecting rocky points, 
especially on parts of the coast of Donegal, it has 
not given names to many townlands. Its usual 
English form is stook, which, in Ireland at least, 
has taken its place as an English word, for the 
expression, " a stook of corn " is used all over the 
country, meaning the same as the English word 
shock. Stook is the name of a place in Tipperary ; 
but the two diminutives, Stookan and Stookeen, 
occur more frequently than the original. 

Visitors to the Giant's Causeway will remember 
the two remarkable lofty rocks called the Stook- 
ans little stooks or rock pinnacles standing in 
the path leading to the causeway, which afford a 
very characteristic example of the application of 
this term. We find Stookeens, the same word, in 
Limerick, and the singular, Stookeen, occurs in 
Cork. Near Loughrea in Galway, is a townland 
called Cloghastookeen, the stone fortress of the 
little pinnacle, which received its name from a 
castle of the Burkes, the ruins of which still 
remain ; and on the coast of Antrim, beside Garron 
Point is a tall pillar of rock called Cloghastucan, 
clogh here meaning the stone itself the stone of 
the pinnacle or pinnacle rock. Baurstookeen in 
Tipperary, signifies the summit of the pinnacle. 

The words aitt &nd.faill [oil, foil], mean a rock, 
a cliff, or a precipice; both words are radically the 
same, the latter being derived from the former by 
prefixing / (see p. 27). I have already observed 
that this practice of prefixing / is chiefly found 
in the south, and accordingly it is only in this 
part of Ireland that names occur derived from/as'//. 

Faitt is generally made foil and foyle in the 
present names, and there are great numbers of 

OHAP. i.] Mountains, Hills, and Rocks. 409 

cliffs round the Minister coasts, especially on 
those of Cork and Kerry, whose names begin 
with these syllables ; they also begin the names 
of about twenty-five townlands, inland as well 
as on the coast. Foilycleara in Limerick and 
Tipperary, signifies O'Clery's cliff ; Foilnaman 
in the latter county Faill-na-mban, the cliff of the 
women. The diminutive is seen in Falleenadatha 
in the parish of Doon, Limerick, Faillin-a'-deata, 
the little cliff of the smoke. When/oy/e comes in 
as a termination, it is commonly derived, however, 
not fromfaiZZ, but from poll, a hole ; for instance 
Ballyfoyle and Ballyfoile, the names of several 
townlands, represent the Irish Baik-phoill, the 
town of the hole. 

While faill is confined to the south, the other 
form, aill, is found all over Ireland, under a variety 
of modern forms. Ayle and Aille are the names 
of a number of places in Munster and Connaught ; 
Allagower near Tallaght, Dublin, is the cliff of the 
goat. Lisnahall in Tyrone, signifies the fort of 
the cliff ; and Aillatouk the cliff of the hawk 
(aill-a' -tseabhaic}. The diminutive Alleen is found 
in Tipperary and Galway ; in the former county 
there are four townlands, two of them called 
Alleen Hogan, and two Alleen Byan, Hogan's 
and Ryan's little cliff. 

Carraig or carraic [carrig, carrick], signifies a 
rock ; it is usually applied to a large natural rock, 
not lying flat on the surface of the ground like 
leac, but more or less elevated. There are two 
other forms of this word, craig and creag, which, 
though not so common as carraig, are yet found in 
considerable numbers of names, and are used in 
Irish documents of authority. Carraig corresponds 
with Sansc. karkara, a stone ; Armoric, karrek, 
and Welsh, careg or craig, a rock.. 

410 Physical Features. [PART iv 

Carrick and Carrig are the names of nearly 
seventy townlands, villages, and towns, and form 
the beginning of about 550 others ; craig and creag 
are represented by the various forms, Crag, Craig, 
Creg, &c., and these constitute or begin about 250 
names ; they mean primarily a rock, but they are 
sometimes applied to rocky land. 

Carrigafoyle, an island in the Shannon, near 
Ballylongford, Kerry, with the remains of Carriga- 
foyle castle near the shore, the chief seat of the 
O' Conors Kerry, is called in the annals Carraig- 
an-phoill, the rock of the hole ; and it took its 
name from a deep hole in the river immediately 
under the castle. Ballynagarrick in Down repre- 
sents the Irish aile-na-gcarraig, the town of the 
rocks ; Carrigallen in Leitrim was so called from 
the rock on which the original church was built, 
the Irish name of which was Carraig-aluinn, beauti- 
ful rock. In Inishargy in Down, the initial c has 
dropped out by aspiration ; in the Taxation of 
1306 it is called Inyscargi, which well represents 
Inis-carraige, the island of the rock ; and the 
rising ground on which the old church stands was 
formerly, as the name indicates, an island sur- 
rounded by marshes, which have been converted 
into cultivated fields (see Reeves, Eccl. Ant., 
p. 19). 

The form craig occurs more than once in the 
Four Masters : for instance, they mention a place 
called Craig- Cor crain, Corcran's rock; and this 
Aame in the corrupted form of Cahercorcaun, is 
still applied to a townland in the parish of Rath, 
Clare ; they also mention Craig-ui- Chiardubhain, 
O'Kirwan's rock, now Craggykerrivan in the 
parish of Clondagad, same county. Craigavad on 
Belfast Lough was so called probably from a rock, 
on the shore, to which a Jboat used to be moored ; 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and- Rocks. 411 

for its Irish, name is Craig-a l -bhaid, the rock of 
the boat. 

The form Carrick is pretty equally distributed 
over Ireland ; Carrig is much more common in the 
south than elsewhere ; Gregg and Creg are found 
oftener in the north and west than in the south 
and east ; and with three or four exceptions, Craig 
is confined to Ulster. The diminutives Carrigeen, 
Carrigane, and Carrigaun, prevail in the southern 
half of Ireland ; and in the northern, Carrigan, 
Cargan, and Cargin, all signifying little rock, or 
land with a rocky surface ; and with their plurals, 
they give names to numerous townlands and 
villages. There are also a great many places in the 
north and north-west, called Creggan, and in the 
south and west, Creggane and Creggaun, which 
are diminutives of creag, and are generally applied 
to rocky land ; Cargagh and Carrigagh, meaning 
a place full of rocks, are the names of several 

Clock signifies a stone any stone either large 
or small, as, for instance, cloch-shneachta, a hail- 
stone, literally snow-stone ; cloch-teine, fire-stone, 
i. e. a flint. So far as it is perpetuated in local 
names, it was applied in each particular case to a 
stone sufficiently large and conspicuously placed to 
attract general notice, or rendered remarkable by 
some custom or historical occurrence. This word 
is also, in an extended sense, often applied to a 
stone building, such as a castle ; for example, the 
castle of Glin on the Shannon in Limerick, the 
seat of the Knight of Glin, is called in Irish 
documents Cloch-gleanna, the stone castle of the 
glen or valley. It is often difficult to determine 
with certainty which of these two meanings it 
bears in local names. 

Clock is one of our commonest topographical 

412 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

roots ; in the English forms Clogh and Clough, it 
constitutes or begins more than 400 townland 
names ; and it helps to form innumerable others 
in various combinations. Cloghbally and Clogh- 
vally, which are common townland names, repre- 
sent the Irish Cloch-bhaile, stony-town ; scattered 
over Munster, Connaught, and Ulster, are many 
places called Cloghboley and Cloghboola, stony 
booley or dairy-place ; and Clogh voley, Cloghvoola, 
and Cloghvoula, are varied forms of the same 
name ; Shanaclogh and Shanclogh in Munster and 
Connaught, old stone or stone castle. 

Sometimes the final guttural drops out and the 
word is reduced to do ; as in Clomantagh in Kil- 
kenny, in which no guttural appears, though there 
is one in the original Cloch-Mantaigh, the stone or 
stone-castle of Mantach, a man's name signifying 
toothless (see p. 109), said to have taken its name 
from a stone circle on the hill ; Clonmoney and 
Clorusk in Carlow, the former signifying the stone 
of the shrubbery, and the latter, of the rusk or 
marsh. And very often the first c becomes g by 
eclipsis (see p. 22), as in Carrownaglogh, which 
conveys the sound of Ceathramhadh-na-gclogh 
(Book of Lecan), the quarter-land of the stones. 

Names formed from this word, variously com- 
bined, are found in every part of Ireland : when 
it comes in as a termination, it is usually in the 
genitive (cloiche, pron. clohy}, and in this case it 
takes several modern forms, which will be illus- 
trated in the following names : Ballyclogh, Bally- 
clohy, Ballinaclogh, Ballynaclogh, and Ballyna- 
cloghy, all names of frequent occurrence, mean 
stone town, or the town of the stones. Kilna- 
cloghy, in the parish of Cloontuskert, in Roscom- 
mon, is called Coill-na-cloiche in the Four Masters, 
the wood of the stone. Aughnacloy is a little 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Sills, and Rocks. 413 

town in Tyrone ; and there are several townlands 
in other counties of the same name, all called in 
Irish Achadh-na-cloiche [Ahanaclohy], the field of 
the stone. 

There are three diminutives of this word in 
common use cloichin, clochdg, and cloghdn of 
which the third has been already dealt with 
(p. 363). The first is generally anglicised Cloheen 
or Clogheen, which is the name of a town in 
Tipperary, and of several townlands in Cork, 
Waterford, and Kildare. Cloghoge or Clohoge, 
though literally meaning a small stone like Clogh- 
een, is generally applied to stony land, or to a 
place full of round stones ; it is the name of about 
twenty townlands, chiefly in Ulster a few, how- 
ever, being found in Sligo and in the Leinster 

There are several derivative forms from this 
word clock. The most common is clochar, which 
is generally applied to stony laud a place 
abounding in stones, or having a stony surface ; 
but it occasionally means a rock. Its most usual 
anglicised form is Clogher, which is the name of 
a well-known town in Tyrone, of a village, and a 
remarkable headland in Louth, and of nearly sixty 
townlands scattered over Ireland ; and compounded 
with various words, it helps to form the names of 
numerous other places. 

For Clogher in Tyrone, however, a different 
origin has been assigned. It is stated that there 
existed anciently at this place a stone covered with 
gold, which was worshipped as Kermann Kelstach, 
the principal idol of the northern Irish ; and this 
stone, it is said, was preserved in the church of 
Clogher down to a late period : hence the place 
was called Cloch-oir, golden stone. O'Flaherty 
makes this statement in his Ogygia, on the au- 

414 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

thority of Cathal Maguire, Archdeacon of Clogher, 
the compiler of the Annals of Ulster, who died in 
1495 ; and Harris in his edition of Ware's Bishops, 
notices the idol in the following words : " Clogher, 
situated on the river Lanny, takes its name from 
a Golden Stone, from which, in the Times of 
Paganism, the Devil used to pronounce juggling 
answers, like the Oracles of Apollo Pythius, as is 
said in the Register of Clogher." 

With this story of the idol I have nothing to 
do ; only I shall observe that it ought to be 
received with caution, as it is not found in any 
ancient authority ; it is likely that Maguire's state- 
ment is a mere record of the oral tradition, 
preserved in his time. But that the name of 
Clogher is derived from it i. e. from Cloch-oir 
I do not believe, and for these reasons. The pre- 
valence of the name Clogher in different parts of 
Ireland, with the same general meaning, " is 
rather damaging to such an etymon," as Dr. Reeves 
remarks, and affords strong presumption that this 
Clogher is the same as all the rest. The most 
ancient form of the name, as found in Adamnan, 
is Clochur Filiorum Daimeni (this being Adamnan's 
translation of the proper Irish name, Clochur-mac- 
Daimhin, Clochur of the sons of Daimhin) ; in 
which the final syllable ur shows no trace of the 
genitive of or, gold (or, gen. oir) ; and, besides, 
the manner in which Clochur is connected with 
mac-Daimhin goes far to show that it is a generic 
term, the construction being exactly analogous to 
Inis-mac-Nessan (p. 109). 

But farther, there is a direct statement of the 
Origin of the name in a passage of the Tain-bo- 
Chuailnge in Leabhar na hUidhre, quoted by Mr 
J. O'Beirne Crowe in an article in the Kilkenny 
Archaeological Journal (April, 1869, p. 311). In 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Hocks. 415 

this passage we are told that a certain place on 
which was a great quantity of stones, was called 
for that reason Mag Clochair, the plain of the 
stones ; and Mr. Crowe remarks : " Clochar, as 
any Irish scholar might know, does not mean a 
stone of gold ; the form clochar irom clock, a stone, 
is like that of sruthar from sruth, a stream, and 
other nouns of this class with a cumulative sig- 

This place retains its ancient name in the latest 
Irish authorities. Daimhin, whose sons are com- 
memorated in the name, was eighth in descent 
from Colla-da-Chrich (p. 137), and lived in the 
sixth century. His descendants were in latter 
times called Clann-Daimhin [Clan Davin] ; and 
they w r ere represented so late as the fourteenth 
century, by the family of Dwyer. 

Cloghereen, little stony place, a diminutive of 
clogher, is well known to tourists as the name of a 
village near Killarney. Cloichredn, or cloithredn 
[cioherawnl , another diminutive, signifies also a 
stony place, and is found in every part of Ireland 
in different modern forms. It is Cloghrane in 
Kerry and "Waterf ord ; and in the county of Dublin 
it gives name to two parishes called Cloghran. In 
many cases the guttural has dropped out, reducing 
it to Cloran in Westmeath, Tipperary, and Galway ; 
Clorane and Clorhane in Limerick, King's and 
Queen's County. It undergoes various other 
alterations as for instance, Clerran in Monaghan : 
Cleighran in Leitrim ; Cleraun in Longford ; and 
Clerhaun in Mayo and Galway. 

Clochar has other developments, one of which, 
cloharach or cloithreach, meaning much the same as 
clochar itself a stony place is found pretty 
widely spread in various modern forms ; such as 
Cloghera in Clare and Kerry; and Clerragh in 

416 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

Roscommon. Another offshoot is cloichearnach, 
with still the same meaning ; this is anglicised 
Cloghernagh in Donegal and Monaghan ; Claher- 
nagh in Fermanagh ; Clohernagh in Wicklow and 
Tipperary ; while in Tyrone it gives the name of 
Clogherny to a parish and four townlands. 

The word leac, lie, or Hag [lack, lick, leeg] for 
it is written all three ways means primarily a 
great stone, but it is commonly applied to a flag or 
large flat stone ; thus the Irish for ice is leac-oidhre 
[lack-Ira], literally snow- flag. The most ancient 
form is liac or liacc, which is used to translate 
lapis in the Wb. and Sg. MSS. of Zeuss ; and it is 
cognate with the Welsh llcch; Lat. lapis; and 
Greek lithos. 

This word occurs very often in Irish names, and 
in its local application it is very generally used to 
denote a flat- surfaced rock, or a place having a 
level rocky surface. Its most common forms are 
Lack, Leek, and Lick, which are the names of 
many townlands and villages through Ireland, as 
ivell as the diminutives Lackeen and Lickeen, 
little rock. The form Hag is represented by Leeg 
and Leek in Monaghan, and by Leeke in Antrim 
and Londonderry. 

Lickmolassy, a parish in Gralway St. Molaise's 
flag- stone was so called, because the hill on 
which the church was built that gave name to the 
parish, is covered on the surface with level flag- 
like rocks. Legvoy, a place in Roscommon, west 
of Carrick-on-Shannon, is called by the Four Mas- 
ters Leagmhagh [Legvah], the flag-surfaced plain. 
The celebrated mountain Slieve League in Done- 
gal, is correctly described by its name: "A 
quarry lately opened here, shows this part of the 
mountain to be formed of piles of thin small flags 
of a beautiful white colour And here 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Mocks. 417 

observe how much there is in a name ; for Slieve 
League means the mountain of flags." ^ 

I have already observed (p. 355) that stony 
fords are very often designated by names indi- 
cating their character ; and I will give a few 
additional illustrations here. Belleek in Ferman- 
agh, on the Erne, east of Bally shannon, is called 
in Irish authorities, Bel-leice [Bellecka] " trans- 
lated os rupis by Philip O'Sullivan Bear in his 
history of the Irish Catholics. The name signifies 
ford-mouth of the flag- stone, and the place was so 
called from the flat-surfaced rock in the ford, 
which, when the water decreases in summer, ap- 
pears as level as a marble floor " (O'Donovan, 
Four Mast. V., p. 134). Belleek is also the name 
of a place near Ballina in Mayo, which was so 
called from a rocky ford on the Moy ; there is a 
village of the same name near Newtown Hamilton, 
Armagh, and also two townlands in Gal way and 
Meath. Ballinalack is the name of a village in 
Westmeath, a name originally applied to a ford 
on the river Inny, over which there is now a 
bridge ; the correct name is Bel-atha-na-leac [Bella- 
nalack], the mouth of the ford of the flag-stones, 
a name that most truly describes the place, which 
is covered with limestone flags. In some other 
cases, however, Ballinalack is derived from Baile- 
na-leac the town of the flag-stones. 

Several derivative forms from leac are perpetu- 
ated in local names ; one of these, leacach, signi- 
fying stony, is applied topographically to a place 
full of stones or flags, and has given the name of 
Lackagh to many townlands in different parts of 
Ireland. Several places of this name are men- 
tioned in the annals ; for instance, Lackagh in tho 

* From " The Donegal Highlands," Murray and Co., Dublin. 
VOL. I. 28 

418 Physical Features. PART iv. 

parish of Innishkeel, Donegal, and the river 
Lackagh, falling into Sheephaven, same county, 
both of which are noticed in the Four Masters. 

Leacan is one of the most widely extended of all 
derivatives from leac, and in every part of the 
country it is applied to a hill- side. In the modern 
forms of Lackan, Lacken, Lackaun, Leckan, 
Leckaun, and Lickane, it gives name to more 
than forty townlands, and its compounds are still 
more numerous. Lackandarra, Lackandarragh, 
and Lackendarragh, all signify the hill-side of 
the oak ; Ballynalackan and Ballynalacken, the 
town of the hill- side. Lackan in the parish of 
Kilglass in Sligo was formerly the residence of 
the Mac Firbises, where their castle, now called 
Castle Forbes (i. e. Firbis), still remains; and 
here they compiled many Irish works, among 
others, the well-known Book of Lecan. The form 
Lacka is also very common in local names, with 
the same meaning as leacdn, viz., the side of a hill; 
Lackabane and Lackabaun, white hill- side. 

The two words, leaca and leacdn, also signify 
the cheek ; it may be that this is the sense in 
which they are applied to a hill- side, and that in 
this application no reference to leac, a stone was 

" Boireann (burren), a large rock ; a stony, rocky 
district. It is the name of several rocky districts 
in the north and south of Ireland " (O'Donovan, 
App. to O'Reilly's Diet, in wee]. In a passage 
from an ancient MS. quoted by O'Donovan, it is 
fancifully derived from borr, great, and onn, a 

A considerable number of local names are de- 
rived from this word ; one of the best known is 
Burren in Clare, an ancient territory, very often 
mentioned in the annals, which is as remarkable 

;-HAP. i.~] Mountains, Hills, and Rocks 419 

for its stony character as it is celebrated for its 
oyster-bank. Burren is the name of eleven town- 
lands, some of which are found in each of the 
provinces ; there is a river joining the Barrow at 
the town of Carlow, called Burren, i. e. rocky 
river; and in Dublin, the word appears in the 
name of the Burren rocks near the western shore 
of Lambay island. 

There are many places whose names are partly 
formed from this word : Burrenrea in Cavan, and 
Burrenreagh in Down, both meaning grey burren. 
Cloonburren on the west bank of the Shannon, 
nearly opposite Clonmacnoise, is frequently men- 
tioned in the annals, its Irish name being Cluain- 
boireann, rocky meadow. Rathborney, a parish 
in Clare, received its name Rath-Boirne, the fort 
of Burren from the district in which it is situated. 
The plural, boirne (bourny), is modernised into 
Burnew, i. e. rocky lands in the parish of Killin- 
kere, Cavan; in the form Bourney, it is the name 
of a parish in Tipperary ; and near Aghada in Cork 
is a place called Knockanemorney, in Irish Cnocan- 
na-mboirne, the little hill of the rocks. 

The word carr, though not found in the diction- 
aries, is understood in several parts of Ireland to 
mean a rock, and sometimes rocky land. It is 
probable that carraig, a rock, earn, a monumental 
heap of stones, and cairthe, a pillar- stone, are all 
etymologically connected with this word. 

Carr is the name of three townlands in Down, 
Fermanagh, and Tyrone ; and it forms part of 
several names ; such as Carcullion in the parish of 
Clonduff, Down, the rock or rocky land of the 
holly ; Gortahar in Antrim, Gort-a'-chairr, the 
field of the rock. In the parish of Clonallan, 
Down, is a place called Carrogs, little rocks. There 
is another diminutive common in the west of Ire- 

420 Physical Features. PART rv. 

land, namely, cairthm, which is anglicised as it is 
pronounced, Carheen; it generally means rocky 
land, but in some places it is understood to mean 
a cahereen, that is a little caher or stone fort, and 
occasionally a little cairthe, or pillar- stone (see pp. 
284, 343) ; the English plural Carheens, and the 
Irish Carheeny, both meaning little rocks or little 
stone forts, are the names of several places in 
Galway, Mayo, and Limerick. 

The third diminutive, carran, is more generally 
used than either of the two former, and it has 
several anglicised forms, such as Caran, Caraun, 
Carran, and Carraun. It is often difficult to fix 
the meaning of these words ; they generally signify 
rocky land, but they are occasionally understood to 
mean a reaping-hook, applied in this sense, from 
some peculiarity of shape ; and Caran and Carran 
are sometimes varied forms of earn. Craan, Craane, 
and Crane, which are the names of a number of 
places, are modifications which are less doubtful 
in meaning ; they are almost confined to Carlo w, 
and "Wexford, and are always applied to rocky 
land land showing a rocky surface. 

Sceir [sker] means, according to the dictionaries, 
a sharp sea rock ; sceire [skerry], sea rocks ; Scan- 
dinavian sker, a reef, skere, reefs. It is applied to 
rocks inland, however, as well as to those in the 
sea, as is proved by the fact, that there are several 
places far removed from the coast whose names 
contain the word. It enters pretty extensively 
into local nomenclature, and its most usual forms 
are either Scar, Skerry, or the plural Skerries, 
which are the names of several well-known places. 

Sceilig [skellig], according to O'Reilly, means a 
rock ; the form scillic occurs in Cormac's Glossary 
in the sense of a splinter of stone ; and O'Donovan, 
in the Four Masters, translates Sceillic, sea rock. 

CHAP, i.] Mountains, Hills, and Itocks. 421 

There are, however, as in the case of sceir, some 
places inland whose names are derived from it. 

The most remarkable places bearing the name 
of Sceilig are the great and little Skelligs, two 
lofty rocks off the coast of Kerry. Great Skellig 
was selected, in the early ages of Christianity, as 
a religious retreat, and the ruins of some of the 
primitive cells and oratories remain there to this 
day ; the place was dedicated to the Archangel 
Michael, and hence it is called in Irish authorities, 
Sceilig Mhichil, Michael's skellig or sea rock. From 
these rocks the Bay of Ballinskelligs, on the coast 
of Iveragh, took its name. 

One of the little ruined churches in Grlendalough, 
which is situated under the crags of Lugduff 
mountain, is called Templenaskellig, the church of 
the rock, and this skellig or rock is often mentioned 
in the old Lives of St. Kevin. Bunskellig, the 
foot of the rock, is a place near Eyeries on Ken- 
mare Bay ; and in Tyrone there are two townlanda 
called Skelgagh, an adjective formation from sceilig, 
signifying rocky land. 

Speilic is used in Louth in the sense of a splintery 
rock, but it is very probably a corruption of sceilig ; 
it has given name to Spellickanee in the parish of 
Ballymascanlan, which is in Irish, Speilic-an-fhiaich, 
the rock of the raven. Among the Mourne moun- 
tains it is pronounced spellig ; and the adjective 
form speilgeach [spelligagh], is understood there to 
denote a place full of pointed rocks. 

Spine [spink] is used in several parts of Ire- 
land to denote a point of rock, or a sharp over- 
hanging cliff ; but it is employed more generally 
on the coast of Donegal than elsewhere. It has 
not given names to many places, however, even in 
Donegal, where it is most used. There is a town- 
land in King's County, called Spink; and near 

\'2 Physical Features. [pARt I T ". 

Tallaght in Dublin, rises a small hill called Spinkaa, 
little spink or pinnacle. 

There are other terms for hills, such as druitn, 
eudan, ceann, &c., but these will be treated of in 
another chapter. 



Magh [maw or moy] is the most common Irish 
word for a plain or level tract ; Welsh ma. It is 
generally translated campus by Latin writers, .aid 
it is rendered planities in the Annals of Tighernach. 
It is a word of great antiquity, and in the Latinised 
form magus which corresponds with the old Irish 
orthography mag it is frequently used in ancient 
Gaulish names of places, such as Csesaromagus, 
Drusomagus, Noviomagus, Rigomagus, &c. (Gram. 
Celt., p. 9). It occurs also in the Zeuss MSS., 
where it is given as the equivalent of campus. The 
word appears under various forms in anglicised 
names, such as magh, moy, ma, mo, &c. 

Several of the great plains celebrated in former 
ages, and constantly mentioned in Irish authorities, 
have lost their names, though the positions of most 
of them are known. Magh-breagh [Moy-bra], the 
great plain extending from the Liffey northwards 
towards the borders of the present county of Louth, 
may be mentioned as an example. The word breagh 
signifies fine or beautiful, and it is still preserved 
both in sound and sense in the Scotch word bratc ; 
Magh-breagh is accordingly translated, in the An- 
nals of Tighernach, Planities amcena, the delightful 

CHAP, ii.] Plains, Vallci/s,IIoUoics t and Caves. 423 

plain ; and our " rude forefathers " never left us a 
name more truly characteristic.* In its application 
to the plain, however, it has been forgotten for 
generations, though it is still preserved in the name 
of Slieve Bregh, a hill between Slane and Collon, 
signifying the hill of Magh-breagh. 

Many of the celebrated old plains still either 
partly or wholly retain their original names, 
and of these I will mention a few. Macosquin, 
now a parish in Londonderry, is called in the 
annals, Mag h-Cosg rain, the plain of Cosgran, a 
man's name very common both in ancient and 
modern times. There is a village called Movilla 
near Newtownards in Down, where a great 
monastery was founded by St. Finnian in the 
sixth century ; its Irish name is Maghbile (O'Cler. 
Cal.), the plain of the ancient tree; and there 
is another place with the same Irish name 
in the east of Inishowen in Donegal, now 
called Moville, which was also a religious estab- 
lishment, though not equally ancient or important. 

Mallow in Cork is called in Irish Magh-Ealla, 
[Moyalla : Four Mast.], the plain of the river Ealla, 
or Allow. The stream now. called the Allow is a 
small river flowing into the Blackwater through 

* Notwithstanding the authority of Tighernach, I fear this 
translation is incorrect. Any one who examines the way in 
which the name Breg (in all its inflections) is used in old Irish 
writings, will see at once that it is not an adjective, but a 
plural noun ; that it is never used in the singular ; and furti~r 
that it was the name of a people : Brega, (the nom. plural 
form) being a term exactly corresponding with Angli, Cutinani, 
Celti, &c. According to this, Mag-Breg, or in later Irish, 
Magh-Breagh, signifies, not delightful plain, but the plain of 
the Brega, who were I suppose the original inhabitants. As a 
further confirmation of this, and as a kind of set-off against the 
authority of Tighernach, we find Sliabh-Breagh translated in 
the Lives of SS. Fanchea and Columbkille, Mons-Bregarum 
the mountain of the Brep^ See J. O'Beirne Crowe'n note 
in Kilk. Arch. Jour. 1 !3/2, p. 181. 

424 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

Kanturk, ten or eleven miles from Mallow ; but the 
Blackwater itself, for at least a part of its course, 
was anciently called Allow ;* from this the district 
between Mallow and Kanturk was called Magh- 
Ealla, which ultimately settled down as the name 
of the town of Mallow. The river also gave name 
to the territory lying on its north bank, west of 
Kanturk, which is called in Irish authorities, 
Duthaigh Eatta [Doohyalla], i. e. the district of 
;he Allow, now shortened to Duhallow. 

Magunihy, now a barony in Kerry, is called 
by the Four Masters, in some places, Magh- 
gCoindnne [Magunkinny], and in others, Magh- 
0-gCoinchinn, i. e. the plain of the O'Coincinns ; 
from the former of which the present name is 
derived. The territory, however, belonged 250 
years ago to the O'Donohoes, and, according to 
O'Heeren, at an earlier period to O'Connells: 
of the family of O'Conkin, who gave name to the 
territory, I have found no further record. 

The form Moy is the most common of any. It 
is itself, as well as the plural Moys (i. e. plains), 
the name of several places, and forms part of a 
large number. Moynalty in Meath represents 
the Irish Magh-nealta, the plain of the flocks ; 
this was also the ancient name of the level coun- 
try lying between Dublin and Howth (see p. 161) ; 
and the bardic Annals state that it was the only 
plain in Ireland not covered with wood, on the 
arrival of the first colonies. The district between 
the rivers Erne and Drowes is now always called 
the Moy, which partly preserves a name of great 
antiquity. It is the celebrated plain of Magh- 
gCedne [genn#], so frequently mentioned in the 

* See a Paper by the author, on " Spenser's Irish Rivers," 
Proc. R.I.A., Vol. X., p. 1. 

CHAP, ii.] Plains, Valleys, Hollows, and Caves. 425 

accounts of the earliest colonists ; and it was here 
the Fomorian pirates of Tory (p. 162), exacted 
their oppressive yearly tribute from the Nem- 

This word assumes other forms in several coun- 
ties, such as Maw, Maws, Moigh, and Muff. In 
accordance with the Munster custom of restoring 
the final g (p. 31), it is modified to Moig in the 
name of some places near Askeaton, and else- 
where in Limerick ; and this form, a little 
shortened, appears in Mogeely, a well-known 
place in Cork, which the Four Masters call Magh- 
IlS, the plain of lie or Eile, a man's name. 
There is a parish in Cork, east of Macroom, called 
Cannaway, orinlrish Ceann-d '-mhaighe [Cannawee], 
the head of the plain ; the same name is anglicised 
Cannawee in the parish of Kilmoe, near Mizen 
Head in the same county; while we find Kil- 
canavee in the parish of Mothell, Waterford, 
and Kilcanway near Mallow in Cork, both signi- 
fying the church at the head of the plain. 

There is one diminutive, maighin [moyne], 
which is very common, both in ancient and 
modern names ; it occurs in the Zeuss MSS. in 
the form magen, where it is used in the sense of 
locus ; and we find it in the Four Masters, when 
they record the erection, in 1460, by Mac William 
Burke, of the celebrated abbey of Maighin or 
Moyne in Mayo. The ruins of this abbey still 
remain near the river Moy, in the parish of 
Killala, county Mayo. This, as well as the vil- 
lage of Moyne in Tipperary, and about a dozen 
places of the same name in the three southern 
provinces, were all so called from a maighin or little 
plain. Maine and Mayne, which are the names oi 
several places from Derry to Cork, are referable 
to the same root, though a few of them may be 
from meadhon [maan], middle. 

426 Physical* Features. [PART i\ . 

Machaire [magheraj, a derivative from magh, 
and meaning the same thing, is very extensively 
used in our local nomenclature. It generally ap- 
pears in the anglicised forms of Maghera and 
Maghery, which are the names of several villages 
and townlands ; Maghera is the more usual form, 
and it begins the names of nearly 200 places, 
which are found in each of the four provinces, but 
are more common in Ulster than elsewhere. The 
parish of Magheradrool in Down, is called in 
the Reg. Prene, Machary-edargawal, which repre- 
sents the Irish, Machaire-eadar-ghabhal [Maghera- 
addrool], the plain between the (river) forks. 
(Reeves, Eccl. Ant., p. 316. See Addergoole). 

Reidh [ray] signifies a plain, a level field ; it ia 
more commonly employed in the south of Ireland 
than elsewhere, and it is usually applied to a 
mountain-flat, or a coarse, moory, level piece of 
land among hills. Its most general anglicised 
forms are rea, re, and rey. 

In the parish of Ringagonagh, Waterford, there 
is a townland called Readoty, which is modernised 
from R: idh-doighte, burnt mountain-plain : Reana- 
gishagh in Clare, the mountain- flat of the kishes 
or wicker causeways ; Remeen in Kilkenny, smooth 
plain ; Ballynarea, near Newtown Hamilton, Ar- 
magh, the town of the mountain-flat. Reidhleach 
[Relagh], a derivative from reidh, and meaning 
the same thing, gives names to some places in 
Tyrone, Fermanagh, and Cavan, in the modernised 
form, Relagh. 

Reidh is also used as an adjective, signifying 
ready or prepared ; and from this, by an easy 
transition, it has come to signify clear, plain, or 
smooth ; it is probable indeed that the word was 
primarily an adjective, and that its use as a noun 
to designate a plain is merely a secondary applica- 

JHAP. ii.] Plains, Valleys, Hollows, and Caves. 427 

tion. There is a well-known mountain over the 
Killeries in Connemara, called Muilrea ; and this 
name characterizes its outline, compared with that 
of the surrounding hills, when seen from a 
moderate distance : Mael-reidh, smooth flat moun- 
tain (see Mael, p. 395). Rehill is the name of 
some places in Kerry and Tipperary, which are 
called in Irish, Reidh-choill, smooth or clear wood, 
probably indicating that the woods to which the 
name was originally applied were less dense or 
tangled, or more easy to pass through, than others 
in the same neighbourhood. 

Clar is literally a board., and occurs in this sense 
in the Zeuss MSS. in the old form claar, which 
glosses tabula. It is applied loally to a flat piece 
of land ; and in this sense it gives name to a con- 
siderable number of places. Ballyclare is the 
name of a town in Antrim, and of half a dozen 
townlands in Roscommon and the Leinster coun- 
ties, signifying the town of the plain. Ballinclare 
is often met with in Leinster and Munster, and 
generally means the same thing; but it may 
signify in some places the ford of the plank, as it 
does in case of Ballinclare in the parish of Kil- 
macteige in Sligo, which is written Bel-an-chldir 
by the Four Masters (see for plank-bridges, 2nd 
Vol., Chap, xin.) There is a place in Galway 
which was formerly called by this name, where a 
great abbey was founded in the thirteenth century, 
and a castle in the sixteenth, both of which are 
still to be seen in ruins ; the place is mentioned 
by the Four Masters, who call it Baile-an-chlair, 
but it retains only a part of this old name, being 
now called Clare- Galway to distinguish it from 
other Clares. 

Clare is by itself the name of many places, some 
of which are found in each of the four provinces. 

428 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

The county of Clare was so called from the village 
of the same name ; and the tradition of the people 
is, that it was called Clare from a board formerly 
placed across the river Fergus to serve as a bridge. 
Very often the Irish form clar is preserved un- 
changed : as in Clarcarricknagun near Donegal, 
the plain of the rock of the hounds ; Clarbane in 
Armagh, white plain; Clarderry in Monaghan, 
level oak-wood. Clarkill in Armagh, Down, and 
Tipperary, and Clarehill in Deny, are not much 
changed from the original, Clarchoill, level wood. 
In the three last names clar is used as an adjective. 

The form Claragh, signifying the same as clar 
itself a level place is much used as a townland 
name ; Claraghatlea in the parish of Drishane in 
Cork, Clarach-a'-tsleibke, the plain of (i. e. near) 
the mountain. Sometimes this is smoothed down 
to Clara, which is the name of a village in King's 
County, and of several other places ; Clarashinnagh 
near Mohill in Leitrim, the plain of the foxes. 
And lastly, there are several places called Clareen, 
little plain. 

The word gleann [pron. gloun in the south, glan 
elsewhere], has exactly the same signification as 
the English word glen. Though they are nearly 
identical in form, one has not been derived from 
the other, for the English word exists in the 
Ang.-Saxon, and on the other hand, gleann is used 
in Irish MSS. much older than the Anglo-Norman 
invasion, as for instance in Lebor-na-h Uidhre. 

The two words Glen and Glan form or begin the 
names of more than 600 places, all of them, with 
an occasional exception, purely Irish ; and they are 
sprinkled through every county in Ireland. The 
most important of these are explained in other parts 
of this book, and a very few illustrations will be 
sufficient here. Glennamaddy, the name of a 

CHAP. IT.] Plains, Valkys, Hollows, and Caves. 429 

village in Galway, is called in Irish, Gleann-na- 
madaighe, the valley of the dogs; Glennagross 
near Limerick, of the crosses ; Glenmullion near 
the town of Antrim, the glen of the mill ; CHendine 
and Glandine, the names of several places in the 
Munster and Leinster counties, Gleann-doimhin, 
deep glen : the Gap of Glendine cuts through 
the Slieve Bloom mountains right across under 
the northern base of Arderin ; and the same name, 
in the form of Glendowan, is now applied to a fine 
range of mountains in Donegal, which must have 
been so called from one of the " deep valleys " 
they enclose. 

Sometimes it is made Glin, of which one of the 
best known examples is Glin on the Shannon, in 
Limerick, from which a branch of the Fitzgeralds 
derives the title of the Knight of Glin. The full 
name of the place, as given by the Four Masters, 
is Gleann-Corbraighe [Corbry], Corbrach's or 
Corbry's Valley. And occasionally we find it 
Glyn or Glynn, of which we have a characteristic 
example in the village and parish of Glynn in 
Antrim, anciently Gleann-fhinneachta. The geni- 
tive of gkann is gleanna [glanna], and sometimes 
glinn, the former of which is represented by glanna 
in the end of names ; as in Ballinglanna in Cork, 
Kerry, and Tipperary, the town of the glen ; the 
same as Ballinglen and Ballyglan in other counties. 

There are two diminutives in common use ; the 
one, gleanndn, is found in the northern counties in 
the form of Glennan, while in Galway it is made 
Glennaun. The other, gleanntdn, is very much 
used in the south and west, and gives names to 
several places now called Glantane, Glantaun, 
Glentane, and Glentaun all from a " little glen." 

The plural of gkann is gkannta or gleanntaidhe 
[glanta, glenty], the latter of which, with the 

430 Physical Features. [PAW- iv. 

English plural superadded to the Irish (p. 32), 
gives name to the village of Grlenties in Donegal : 
it is so called from two fine glens at the 'lead of 
which it stands, viz., the glen of Stracashel (the 
river- holm of the cashel or stone fort), and Glen- 
fada-na-sealga, or the long valley of the hunting. 

When this word occurs in the end of names, the 
g is sometimes aspirated, in which case it dis- 
appears altogether both in writing and pronuncia- 
tion. Old Leighlin in Carlow, a place once very 
much celebrated as an ecclesiastical establishment, 
is called in the annals, Leith- ghlionn [Lehlin], 
half glen, a name derived from some peculiarity 
of configuration in the little river-bed. Crumlin 
is the name of a village near Dublin, and of 
another in Antrim ; there are also eighteen town- 
lands of this name in different counties through 
the four provinces, besides Crimlin in Fermanagh, 
and Cromlin in Leitrim : Crumlin was also the old 
name of Hillsborough in Down. In every one of 
these places there is a winding glen, and in the 
Antrim Crumlin, the glen is traversed by a river, 
whose name corresponds with that of the glen, viz., 
Camline, which literally signifies crooked line. 
Crumlin near Dublin takes its name from a pretty 
glen traversed by a little stream passing by Inchi- 
core and under the canal into the Liffey. The 
Four Masters in mentioning this CrumHn, give 
the true Irish form of the names of all those 
places, Cruimghlinn, curved glen, the sound of 
which is exactly conveyed by Crumlin. Sometimes 
in pronouncing this compound, a short vowel 
sound is inserted between the two root words, 
which preserves the g from aspiration ; and in 
this manner was formed Cromaglan, the name of 
the semicircularly curved glen traversed by the 
Crinnagh river, which falls into the upper lake of 

< HAP. ii.] Plains, Valleys, Hollows, and Caves. 431 

Killarney. From this, the fine hill rising im- 
mediately over the stream, and overlooking the 
upper lake, borrowed the name of Cromaglan ; 
and it is now hardly necessary to add that this 
name does not mean " drooping mountain," as the 
guide-books absurdly translate it. There is a 
townland of the same name in the parish of 
Tullylease in Cork, now called Cromagloun. 

Lug or lag signifies a hollow ; when used topo- 
graphically, it is almost always applied to a hollow 
in a hill ; and lag, lig, leg, and lug, are its most 
common forms, the first three being more usual in 
Ulster, and the last in Leinster and Connaught. 
The word is not so much used in Munster as in 
the other provinces. 

There is a place near Balla in Mayo called 
Lagnamuck, the hollow of the pigs ; Lagnavid- 
doge in the same county signifies the hollow of the 
plovers. Leg begins the names of about 100 
townlands, almost all of them in the northern half 
of Ireland. The places called Legacurry, Lega- 
chory, and Lagacurry, of which there are about a 
dozen, are all so called from a caldron-like pit or 
hollow, the name being in Irish Lag-a'-choire, the 
hollow of the coire or caldron. When the word 
terminates names it takes several forms, none 
differing much from lug ; such as Ballinlig, Baliin- 
lug, Ballinluig, Ballylig, and Ballylug, all common 
townland names, signifying the town of the lug or 

As this word was applied to a hollow in a moun- 
tain, it occasionally happened that the name of 
the hollow was extended to the mountain itself, 
as in case of Lugduff over Glendalough in Wick- 
low, black hollow ; and Lugnaquillia, the highest 
of the Wicklow mountains, which the few old 
people who still retain the Irish pronunciation in 

432 Physical Features. [PART TV. 

that district, call Lug-na-gcoilleach, the hollow of 
the cocks, i. e. grouse. 

The diminutives Lagan and Legan occur very 
often as townland names, but it is sometimes 
difficult to separate the latter from liagan, a pillar 
stone. The river Lagan or Logan, as it is called 
in the map of escheated estates, 1609, may have 
taken its name from a "little hollow" on some 
part of its course ; there is a lake in Roscommon 
called Lough Lagan, the lake of the little hollow ; 
and the townland of Leggandorragh near Raphoe 
in Donegal, is called in Irish Lagan-dorcha, dark 

Cum [coom] a hollow ; a nook, glen, or dell in 
a mountain ; a valley enclosed, except on one side, 
by mountains ; corresponding accurately with the 
Welsh cum and English comb. The Coombe in 
Dublin is a good illustration, being as the name 
implies, a hollow place. 

This word is used very often in the neighbour- 
hood of Killarney to designate the deep glens of 
the surrounding mountains ; as in case of Coom- 
nagoppul under Mangerton, whose name originated 
in the practice of sending horses to graze in it at 
certain seasons Cum-na-gcapall, the glen of the 
horses ; and there is another place of the same 
name in Waterford. 

The most usual forms are coom and coum, which 
form part of many names in the Munster coun- 
ties, especially in Cork and Kerry ; thus Coom- 
nahorna in Kerry, the valley of the barley; 
Coomnagun near Killaloe, of the hounds. Lack- 
enacoombe in Tipperary the hill-side of the 
hollow exhibits the word as a termination. 
Commaun, Commeen, and Cummeen, little hollow, 
are often met with ; but as the two latter are 
often sometimes used to express a " common," the 

CHAP, ii.] Plains, Valleys, Hollows, and Caves. 433 

investigator must be careful not to pronounce too 
decidedly on their meaning, without obtaining 
some knowledge of the particular case. Some- 
times the initial c is eclipsed, as in the case of 
Baurtrigoum, the name of the highest summit of 
the Slieve Mish mountains near Tralee, which 
signifies the barr or summit of the three corns or 
hollows ; and the mountain was so called because 
there are on its northern face three glens from 
summit to base, each traversed by a stream. 

Beam or bearna [barn, barna], a gap; it is 
usually applied to a gap in a mountain or through 
high land ; and in this sense it is very generally 
applied in local nomenclature, commonly in the 
form of Barna, which is the name of about a 
dozen townlands, and enters into the formation of 
a very large number. Barnageehy and Barnana- 
geehy, the gap of the wind, is a name very often 
given to high and bleak passes between hills ; 
and the mountain rising over Ballyorgan in 
Limerick, is called Barnageeha, from a pass of 
this kind on its western side. Very often it is 
translated Windy gap and Windgate : there is, for 
instance, a remarkable gap with the former name 
in the parish of Addergoole, Mayo, which the 
Four Masters call by its proper Irish name, 
Bearna - na - gaeithe. Ballinabarny, Ballybarney, 
Ballynabarna, Ballynabarny, Ballynabearna, and 
Ballynaberny, all signify the town of the gap. 

There are several places in different counties, 
called by the Irish name, Bearna-dhearg [Barna- 
yarrag], red gap, and anglicised Barnadarrig and 
Barnaderg. The most remarkable of these for 
its historic associations is Bearna-dhearg between 
the two hills of Knockea and Carrigeenamronety, 
on the road from Kilmallock in Limerick to 
Kildorrery in Cork. It is now called in English 
VOL. i. 29 

434 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

Redchair or Richchair, which is an incorrect 
form of the old Anglo-Irish name Redsherd, as 
we find it in Dymmok's "Treatise of Ireland," 
written about the year 1600 (Tracts relating to 
Ireland, Vol. II. , p. 18 : Irish Arch. Soc.), i. e. 
red gap, a translation of the Irish ; sheard, being 
a West-English term for a gap. There is a gap 
in the mountain of Forth in Wexford, which,* 
according to the Glossary quoted at page 44, 
supra, is also called Reed-sheard or Red- gap, by 
the inhabitants of Forth and Bargy. 

This word takes other forms, especially in the 
northern counties, where it is pretty common ; it 
is made barnet in several cases, as in Drumbarnet, 
the ridge of the gap, the name of some places in 
Donegal and Monaghan ; Lisbarnet in Down, the 
fort of the gap. There is another Irish form 
used in the north, namely, bearnas; it has the 
authority of the annals, in which this term is 
always used to designate the great gap of Bar- 
nismore near Donegal ; and in the forms Barnes 
and Barnish, it gives name to several places in 
Antrim, Donegal, and Tyrone. All the preceding 
modifications are liable to have the b changed to 
v by aspiration (p. 19), as in Ardvarness in Deny, 
Ardvarney and Ardvarna in several other counties, 
high gap; Ballyvarnet near Bangor in Down 
(Ballyvernock : Inq., 1623), the town of the gap. 

The diminutive Bearndn is the real name of 
the remarkable gap in the mountain now called 
the Devil's Bit in Tipperary, whose contour is so 
familiar to travellers on the Great Southern and 
Western Railway ; and it gives name to the 
parish of Barnane-Ely, i. e. the little gap of Eile, 
the ancient territory in which it was situated. 

A scealp [scalp] is a cleft or chasm ; the word 
is much in use among the English-speaking pea- 

CHAP, ii.] Plains, Valleys, Hollows, and Caves. 435 

santry of the south, who call a piece of anything 
cut off by a knife or hatchet, a skelp. The well- 
known mountain chasm called the Scalp south of 
Dublin near Enniskerry, affords the best known 
and the most characteristic application of the 
term, and it is worthy of remark that the people 
of the place pronounce it Skelp : there are other 
places of the same name in the counties of Clare, 
Gralway, Dublin, and "Wicklow. Skelpy, the 
name of a townland in the parish of Urney in 
Donegal is an adjective form, and signifies a 
place full of skelps, splits, or chasms. Scalpnagoun 
in Clare is the cleft of the calves ; Moneyscalp in 
Down, the shrubbery of the chasm. 

Pott^ a hole of any kind ; Welsh pwtt; Manx 
powll; Breton poutt ; Cornish pol ; Old High 
German pful; English pool. Topographically it 
is applied to holes, pits, or caverns in the earth, 
deep small pools of water, very deep spots in 
rivers or lakes, &c. ; in the beginning of angli- 
cised names it is always made poll, poul or pull ; 
and as a termination it is commonly changed to 
foyle, phuill, or phull, by the aspiration of the p 
(p. 20), and by the genitive inflexion ; all which 
forms are exhibited in Ballinfoyle, Ballinphuill 
and Ballinphull, the town of the hole, which are 
the names of many places all over the country. 
Often the p is eclipsed by b (p. 22) as in Bally- 
naboll and Ballynaboul, Baile-na-bpoll, the town 
of the holes. 

The origin of the name Poolbeg, now applied 
to the lighthouse at the extremity of the South 
Wall in Dublin bay, may be gathered from a 
passage in Boate's Natural History of Ireland, 
written, it must be remembered, long before the 
two great walls, now called the Bull Wall and 
the South Wall, were built. He states : " This 

436 Physical Features. [PART i\ 

haven almost all over falieth dry with the ebbe, 
as well below Rings- end as above it, so as you 
may go dry foot round about the ships which lye 
at an anchor there, except in two places, one at 
the north side, and the other at the south side, 
not far from it. In these two little creeks 
(whereof the one is called the pool of Clontarf, 
and the other Poolbeg) it never falleth dry, but 
the ships which ride at an anchor remain ever 
afloat" (Chap. III., Sec. n.). The "Pool of 
Clontarf" is still caUed "The Pool;" and the 
other (near which the lighthouse was built), as 
being the smaller of the two, was called Poll-leag, 
little pool. 

There is a place near Arklow called Pollahoney, 
or in Irish, Pott-a' -chotiaidh the hole of the fire- 
wood ; Pollnaranny in Donegal, Pollrane in Wex- 
ford, and Pollranny in Roscommon and Mayo, all 
signify the hole of the ferns ; Polldorragha near 
Tuam, dark hole ; Pollaginnive in Fermanagh, 
sandpit ; Polfore near Dromore, Tyrone, cold 
hole. So also Pouldine in Tipperary, deep hole. 

The diminutive in various forms is also pretty 
general. The Pullens (little caverns) near Do- 
negal, " is a deep ravine through which a moun- 
tain torrent leaps joyously, then suddenly plunges 
through a cleft in the rock of from thirty to forty 
feet in depth," and after about half a mile " it 
loses itself again in a dark chasm some sixty feet 
deep, from which it emerges under a natural 
bridge " (The Donegal Highlands, p. 68). There 
are some very fine sea caves a little west of 
Castletown Bearhaven in Cork, which, as well as 
the little harbour, are well known by the name of 
Pulleen, little hole or cavern; and this is the 
name of some other places in Cork and Kerry. 
We have Pullans near Coleraine in Derry, and in 

CHAP, ii.] Plains, Valleys, Holloics, and Caves. 437 

the parish of Clontihret, Monaghan; Pollans in 
Donegal ; and Polleens and Polleeny in Galway, 
all signifying little holes or caverns. The adjec- 
tive form pollack is applied to land full of pits or 
holes, and it has given name to ahout thirty-five 
townlands in the three southern provinces, in the 
forms of Pollagh and Pullagh. 

We have several words in Irish for a cave. 
Sometimes, as we have seen, the term pott was 
used, and the combination poll-talmhan [Poultal- 
loon : hole of the earth] was occasionally employed 
as a distinctive term for a cavern, giving name, 
in this sense, to Polltalloon in Galway, and to 
Poultalloon near Fedamore in Limerick. 

Dearo or derc [derk] signifies a cave or grotto, 
and also the eye. The latter is the primary 
meaning, corresponding with Gr. derJco, I see, 
and its application to a cave is figurative and 
secondary. The word is often found in the old 
MSS. ; as, for instance, in case of Derc-ferna 
(cave of alders), which was the ancient name of 
the Cave of Dunmore near Kilkenny, and which 
is still applied to it hy those speaking Irish. In 
the parish of Rathkenny in Meath is a place 
called Dunkerk, the fortress of the cave ; so 
named, probahly, from an artificial cave in con- 
nection with the dun; there are several places 
called Derk and Dirk, both meaning simply a 
cave; and Aghadark in Leitrim, is the field of 
the cavern. 

Cuas is another term for a cave, which has also 
given names to a considerable number of places : 
Coos and Coose are the names of some townlands 
in Down, Monaghan, and Galway; there is a 
remarkable cavern near Cong called Cooslughoga, 
the cave of mice ; and it is very likely that Cozies 
in the parish of Billy, Antrim, is merely the 

438 Physical Features. P^ART iv 

English plural of Cuas, meaning "caves." Cloon- 
coose, Clooncose, Cloncose, and Cloncouse, are the 
names of fourteen townlands spread over the four 
provinces ; the Irish form is Cluain-cuas (Four 
Masters), the meadow of the caves. Sometimes 
the c is changed to li by aspiration, as in Corra- 
hoash in Cavan, the round- hill of the cave ; and 
often we find it eclipsed by g (p. 22), as in 
Drumgoose and Drumgose, the names of some 
places in Armagh, Tyrone, and Monaghan, which 
represent the Irish Druim-gcuas, cave ridge. 
There are several places called Coosan, Coosane, 
Coosaun, and Coosheen, all signifying little cave. 
Round the coasts of Cork and Kerry, and perhaps 
in other counties, cuas or coos is applied to a small 
sea inlet or cove, and in these places the word 
must be interpreted accordingly. 

There is yet another word for a cave in very 
general use, which I find spelled in good autho- 
rities in three different ways, uagh, uaimh, and 
uath [ooa] ; for all these are very probably nothing 
more than modifications of the same original. 
There is a class of romantic tales in Irish " re- 
specting various occurrences in caves : sometimes 
the taking of a cave, when the place has been 
used as a place of refuge or habitation ; sometimes 
the narrative of some adventure in a cave ; some- 
times of a plunder of a cave; and so on" 
(0' Curry, Lect., p. 283^. A tale of this kind 
was called uath, i. e. cave. 

The second form uaimh is the one in most 
general use, and its genitive is either uamha or 
uamhain [ooa, ooan], both of which we find in the 
annals. Cloyne in Cork, has retained only part of 
its ancient name, Cluain-uamha, as it is written in 
the Book of Leinster and many other authorities, 
i. e. the meadow of the cave ; this was the o]d 

CHAP, ii.] Plains, Valleys, Hollows, and Caves. 439 

pagan name, which St. Colnaan Mac Lenin adopted 
when he founded his monastery there in the 
beginning of the seventh century ; and the cave 
from which the place was named so many hundred 
years ago, is still to be seen there. At A. M. 
1350, the Four Masters record the erection by 
Emhear, of Rath uamhain, i. e. the fort of the cave 
(O'Donovan's Four Masters, I., 27), which ex- 
hibits the second form of the genitive. 

Both of these genitives are represented in our 
present names. The first very often forms the 
termination oe or oo, or with the article, nahoe, or 
nahoo ; as Drumnahoe in Antrim and Tyrone, and 
Drumahoe in Derry, i. e. Druim-na-huamha, the 
ridge of the cave ; Farnahoe near Inishannon in 
Cork (Far-ran, land) ; Glennoo near Clogher in 
Tyrone, and Glennahoo in Kerry, the glen of the 
cave. And occasionally the v sound of the aspir- 
ated m comes clearly out, as in Cornahoova in 
Meath, and Cornahove in Armagh, the round-hill 
of the cave ; the same as Cornahoe in Monaghan 
and Longford. 

The other genitive, uamhain [ooan], is also very 
often used, and generally appears in the end of 
names in the form of one or oon, or with the article, 
nahone or nahoon ; in this manner we have Mullen- 
nahone in Kilkenny, and Mullinahone in Tip- 
perary, Muilenn-na-huamhain, the mill of the cave, 
the latter so called from a cave near the village 
through which the little river runs : Knockeen- 
nahone in Kerry (little hill) ; and Lisnahoon in 
Roscommon, so called, no doubt, from the artificial 
cave in the lis or fort. Both forms are represented 
in Gortnahoo in Tipperary, and Gornahoon in 
Galway, the field of the cave ; and in Knocknahoe 
in Kerry and Sligo, and Knocknahooan in Clare, 
cave hill. 

440 Physical features. [PART iv. 

Occasionally we find this last genitive form 
used as a nominative (p. 34), for, according to 
O'Donovan (App. to O'Reilly's Diet.), " Uamhainn 
is used in Thomond to express a natural or artifi- 
cial cave." Nooaff and Nooan are the names of 
some places in Clare ; they are formed by the 
attraction of the article (p. 23), the former repre- 
senting n'uaimh, and the latter n'uamhainn, and 
both signifying " the cave." The Irish name of 
Owenbristy near Ardrahan in Galway is Uamhawn- 
brisde, broken cave. 

Uamhainn with the mh sounded, would be pro- 
nounced oovan; and this by a slight change, 
effected under the corrupting influence noticed 
at page 38, has given name to " The Ovens," a 
small village on the river Bride, two miles west of 
Ballincollig in Cork. For in this place "is a 
most remarkable cave, large and long, with many 
branches crossing each other " (Smith's Cork, I., 
212), which the people say runs as far as Gill 
Abbey near Cork ; and by an ingenious alteration, 
they have converted their fine caves or oovans into 
ovens ! The ford at the village was anciently 
called Ath- 'n-uamhain [Athnooan], the ford of the 
cave, and this with the v sound suppressed has 
given the name of Athnowen to the parish 



THE most common word for an island is inis, 
genitive inse, insi, or innsi, cognate with Welsh 
ynys, Arm. enes, and Lat. insula : the form insi or 
innsi is sometimes used as a nominative even in 

CHAP, in.] Islands, Peninsulas, and Strands. 441 

the oldest and best authorities (see p. 33, sect. vii.). 
It is also applied in all parts of Ireland to the 
holm, or low flat meadow along a river; and a 
meadow of this kind is generally called an inch 
among the English-speaking people, especially in 
the south. This, however, is obviously a secondary 
application, and the word must have been origi- 
nally applied to islands formed by the branching 
of rivers ; but while many of the ^e, by gradual 
changes ill the river course, lost the character of 
islands, they retained the name. It is not difficult 
to understand how, in the course, of ages, the word 
inis would in this manner gradually come to be 
applied to river meadows in general, without any 
reference to actual insulation. 

The principal modern forms of this word are 
Inis, Inish, Ennis, and Inch, which give names to 
a vast number of places in every part of Ireland ; 
but whether, in any individual case, the word 
means an island or a river holm, must be deter- 
mined by the physical configuration of the place. 
In many instances places that were insulated when 
the names were imposed are now no longer so, in 
consequence of the drainage of the surrounding 
marshes or lakes ; as in case of Inishargy (p. 410). 

Inis and Inish are the forms most generally 
used, and they are the common appellations of the 
islands round the coast, and in the lakes and 
rivers ; they are also applied, like inch, to river 
meadows. There is an island in Lough Erne, 
containing the ruins of an ancient church, which 
the annalists often mention by the name of Inis- 
muighe-samh [moy-sauv], the island of the plain 
of the sorrel ; this island is now, by a very gross 
mispronunciation, called Inishmacsaint, and has 
given name to the parish on the mainland. 

Near the town of Ennis in Clare, is a townland 

442 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

called Clonroad, which preserves pretty well the 
sound of the name as we find it in the annals, 
Cluain-ramhfhoda, usually translated the meadow 
of the long rowing : the spot where Ennis now 
stands must have been originally connected in 
some way with thk townland, for the annals 
usually mention it by the name of Inis-Cluana- 
ramfhoda, i. e. the river meadow of Clonroad. 
Inishnagor in Donegal and Sligo, is a very descrip- 
tive name, signifying the river meadow of the 
oorrs or cranes ; there are several places in both 
north and south, called Enniskeen and Inishkeen, 
in Irish Inis-caein (Four Mast.), beautiful island 
or river holm. Inistioge in Kilkenny is written 
Inis-Teoc in the Book of Leinster, Teoc's island ; 
and Ennistimon in Clare is called by the Four 
Masters Inis-Diomain, Diman's river meadow. 

This word very often occurs in the end of 
names, usually forming with the article the ter- 
mination nahinch; as in Coolnahinch, the corner or 
angle of the island or river meadow. Sometimes 
it is contracted, as we see in Cleenish, an island 
near Enniskillen, giving name to a parish, which 
ought to have been called Cleeninish ; for the Irish 
name, according to the Four Masters, is Claen- 
inis, i. e. sloping island. 

Oilcan or oilen is another word for an island 
which is still used in the spoken language, and 
enters pretty extensively into names. It is com- 
monly anglicised Ulan and Illaun, and these words 
give names to places all over the country, but 
far more numerously in Connaught than else- 
where. Thus Illananummera in Tipperary, the 
island of the ridge, so called no doubt from its 
shape ; Illanfad in Donegal, long island, the same 
as Illaunf adda in Galway ; Illauninagh near Inchi- 
geelagh in Cork, ivy island ; and there are several 

CHAP in.] Islands, Peninsulas, and Strands. 443 

little islets off the coast of Gralway and Mayo, 
called Roeillaun, red island. 

A peninsula is designated by the compound leith- 
insi [lehinshi] literally half-island ; and this word 
gives name to all places now called Lehinch or 
Lahinch, of which, besides a village in Clare 
(which is mentioned by the Four Masters), there 
are several in other parts of Ireland. The word 
is shortened in Loughlynch in the parish of Billy, 
Antrim, which ought to have been called Lough- 
khinch, as it is written in the Four Masters Loch- 
kithinnsi, the lake of the peninsula ; for a lake 
existed there down to a recent period. 

The word ros signifies, first, a promontory or 
peninsula ; secondly, a wood ; and it has other 
significations which need not be noticed here. 
Colgan translates it nemus in Act. SS , p. 791 b, n. 
15 ; and in Tr. Th., p. 383, a, n. 17, it is rendered 
peninsula. By some accident of custom, the two 
meanings are now restricted in point of locality ; 
for in the southern half of Ireland, ros is generally 
understood only in the sense of wood, while in the 
north, this application is lost, and it means only r. 

Yet there are many instances of the application 
of this term to a peninsula in the south, showing 
that it was formerly so understood there. A well- 
known example is Ross castle on the lower lake 
of Killarney, so called from the little ros or point 
on which it was built. Between the middle and 
lower lakes is the peninsula of Muckross, so cele- 
brated for the beauty of its scenery, and for its 
abbey ; its Irish name is Muc-ros, the peninsula of 
the pigs ; which is also the name of a precipitous 
headland near Killybegs in Donegal, and of 
several other places. And west of Killamey, near 
the head of Dingle bay, is a remarkable peninsula 

444 Physical Features. 

called Rossbehy or Rossbegh, the latter part of 
which indicates that it was formerly covered with 
birch trees : birchy point. 

There is a parish in Leitrim called Rossinver, 
which takes its name from a point of land run- 
ning into the south part of Lough Melvin 
Ros-inbhir, the Peninsula of the inver or river 
mouth ; and Rossorry near Enniskillen is called in 
the Four Masters, Ros-jairthir [Rossarher], eastern 
peninsula, of which the modern name is a corrup- 
tion. Portrush in Antrim affords an excellent 
illustration of the use of this word ; it takes its 
name from the well-known point of basaltic rock 
which juts into the sea : Post-ruis, the landing- 
place of the peninsula. The district between the 
bays of Ohveebarra and Gweedore in Donegal is 
called by the truly descriptive name, The Rosses, 
i. e. the peninsulas. 

While it is often difficult to know which of the 
two meanings we should assign to ros, the nature 
of the place not unfrequently determines the 
matter. Rush north of Dublin, is called in Irish 
authorities Ros-eo [Rush- 6], from which the 
present name has been shortened ; and as the vil- 
lage is situated on a projection of land three- 
fourths surrounded by the sea, we can have no 
hesitation about the meaning of the first syllable : 
the whole name therefore signifies the peninsula 
of the yew-trees. 

Traigh or tracht [tra, traght] signifies a strand; 
it is found in the Zeuss MSS., and corresponds 
with Lat. tractuSy "Welsh traeth, and Cornish trait. 
The first form is that always adopted in modern 
names, and it is generally represented by tra, 
traw, or tray. One of the best known examples 
of its use is Tralee in Kerry ; the Four Masters 
call it Traigh-Li, and the name is translated in the 

CHAP, in.] Islands, Peninsulas, and Strands. 445 

Life of St. Brendan, Littus Ly, which is generally 
taken to mean the shore or strand of the Lee, a 
little river which runs into the sea beside the 
town on the south-west side. In the Annals of 
Connaught, however, the place is called " Traigh 
Li mic Dedad," the strand of Li the son of Dedad' 
from which it would appear that it took its name 
from a man named Li (which is consistent with . 
the translation in the Life of St. Brendan) ; and 
this is probably the true origin of the name. 
Tralee in the parish of Ardtrea, Derry, has a 
different origin, the Irish name being Traigh- 
Liath, grey strand. Tramore near Waterford, 
great strand ; Trawnamaddree in Cork, the strand 
of the dogs. Baltray, strand- town, is the name of 
a village near the mouth of the Boyne ; there is a 
place called Ballynatray, a name having the same 
meaning, on the Blackwater, a little abovl 
Youghal ; and near the same town, on the opposite 
shore of the river, is Monatray, the bog of the 
strand. There is a beautiful white strand at 
Ventry in Kerry, from which the place got the 
name of Fionn-traigh [Fintra : Fionn, white] ; 
Hanmer calls it ventra, which is an intermediate 
step between the ancient and modern forms. 
This same name is more correctly modernised 
Fintra in Clare., and Fintragh near Killybegs in 

446 Physical Features. [PART iv 



THE common Irish word for water is uisce [iska] : 
it occurs in the Zeuss MSS., where it glosses aqua 
and it is cognate with Lat. unda, and Gr. hudor. 
It is pretty extensively used in local names, and 
it has some derivatives, which give it a wider cir- 
culation. It occurs occasionally in the beginning 
of names, but generally in the end, and its usual 
forms are iska, ishy, and isk. Whiskey is called 
in Irish uisce-beatha [iska-baha], or AS it is often 
anglicised, usquebaugh, which has exactly the same 
meaning as the Latin aqua vita, and the French 
eau-de-vie, water of life ; and the first part of the 
compound, slightly altered, now passes current as 
an English word whiskey. 

At A.D. 465, the Four Masters record that Owen, 
son of Niall of the Nine Hostages (see p. 139, 
supra), died of grief for his brother Oonall Gulban, 
and that he was buried at Uisce-chaein, whose 
name signifies beautiful water. This place is now 
called Eskaheen, preserving very nearly the old 
sound ; it is situated near Muff in Inishowen, and 
it received its name from a fine spring, where, 
according to Colgan, there anciently existed a 
monastery. No tradition of Owen is preserved 
there now (see O'Donovan, Four Mast. I., 146). 

Knockaniska, the name of some places in Water- 
ford, is the hill of the water ; there is a parish in 
Wicklow, called Killiskey, the church of the water, 
and the little stream that gave it the name still 
runs by the old church ruin ; the same name exists 
in Wexford, shortened to Killisk, and in King's 

CHAP, iv.] Water, Lakes, and Springs. 447 

County it is made Killiskea. Balliniska and Bally- 
nisky are the names of two townlands in Lime- 
rick, both signifying the town of the water ; and 
the village of Ballisk near Donabate in Dublin, 
has the same name, only without the article. 
Bally hisky in Tipperary is a different name, viz., 
Bealach-uisce, the road of the water, the h in the 
present name representing the ch of bealach. 

According to Cormac's Glossary, esc is another 
ancient Irish word for water " esc, i. e. uisce :" 
its original application is lost, but in some parts of 
Ireland, especially in the south, it is applied to the 
track of a stream or channel, cut by water, either 
inland or on the strand. It has given name to 
some townlands called Esk in Kerry; and to 
Eskenacartan in Cork, the stream-track of the 
forge. The glen under the south slope of Cro- 
maglan mountain at Killarney is called Eskna- 
mucky, the stream- track of the pig ; and this is 
also the name of a townland in Cork. The name 
of Lough Eask near Donegal may be formed from 
this word (the lake of the channel) ; but more pro- 
bably it is from iasc, fish Loch-eisc, the lake of the 
fish. Many names in Wexford contain the syl- 
lable ask, which is a good anglicised form of this 
word esc. 

Loch signifies a lake, cognate with Lat. lacus, 
English, lake, &c. The word is applied both in 
Ireland and Scotland, not only to lakes, but to arms 
of the sea, of which there are hundreds of ex- 
amples round the coasts of both countries. The 
almost universal anglicised form in this country is 
lough, but in Scotland they have preserved the 
original loch unchanged. As the word is well 
known and seldom disguised in obscure forms, a 
few examples of its use will be sufficient here. 

The lake names of Ireland are generally 

448 Physical Features. [PART iv 

up of this word, followed by some limiting term, 
such as a man's name, an adjective, &c. Thus 
the lakes of Killarney were anciently, and are often 
still, called collectively, Lough Leane ; and accord- 
ing to the Dinnsenchus, they received that name 
from Lean of the white teeth, a celebrated artificer 
who had his forge on the shore. Lough Conn in 
Mayo is called in the Book of Ballymote and 
other authorities, Loch-Con, literally the lake of 
the hound ; but it is probable that Con, or as it 
would stand in the nominative, Cu, is here also a 
man's name. Loughrea in Galway is called in the 
annals, Loch-riabhach, grey lake. 

Great numbers of townlands, villages, and 
parishes, take their names from small lakes, as in 
the widely-extended names Ballinlough and Bally- 
lough, the town of the lake. In numerous cases 
the lakes have been dried up, either by natural or 
artificial drainage, leaving no trace of their exist- 
ence except the names. 

The town of Carlow is called in Irish authori- 
ties, Cetherloch, quadruple lake ; and the tradition 
is that the Barrow anciently formed four lakes 
there, of which, however, there is now no trace. 
The Irish name is pronounced Caherloiigh, which 
was easily softened down to the present name. By 
early English writers it is generally called Cather- 
logh or Katherlagh, which is almost identical with 
the Irish; Boate calls it " Catherlogh or Carlow," 
showing that in his time the present form was 
beginning to be developed. 

The diminutive lochan is of very general occur 
rence in the anglicised forms Loughan, Loughane, 
and Loughaun, all names of places, which were so 
called from " small lakes." There is a place in 
Westmeath, near Athlone, called Loughanaskin, 
whose Irish name is Lochan-easgann, the little lake 

CHAP. iv.J Water, Lakes, and Springs. 449 

of the eels ; Loughanreagh near Coleraine in Lon- 
donderry, grey lakelet ; and Loughanstown, the 
name of several places in Limerick, Meath, and 
Westmeath, is a translation from Baile-an-lochain, 
the town of the little lake ; which is retained in 
the untranslated forms Ballinloughan, Bally- 
loughan, and Ballyloughaun, in other counties. 
But Ballinloughane in the parish of Dunmoylan, 
near Shanagolden in Limerick, is a different 
name ; for it is corrupted from Baile- Ui- Gheil- 
eachain [Ballygeelahan], as the Four Masters 
write it, which signifies O'Geelahan's town (see 
2nd Volume. Chap. vin.). 

Turlough is a term very much used in the west 
of Ireland ; and it is applied to a lake which dries 
up in summer, exhibiting generally, at that season, 
a course, scrubby, marshy surface, which is often 
used for pasture. It gives names to several places 
in the counties west of the Shannon (including 
Clare), a few of which are mentioned by the 
Four Masters, who write the word turlach. There 
are two townlands in Roscommon called Ballin- 
turly, the town of the turlach. The root of this 
word is fur, which, according to Cormac's Glos- 
sary, signifies dry ; but the lach in the end is a 
mere suffix (see this suffix in 2nd Yol., Chap, i.), 
and not loch, a lake, as might naturally be thought : 
turlach, a dried-upspot (which had formerly been 
wet). This appears evident from the fact that 
the Four Masters write its genitive, turlaigh, in 
which laigh is the proper genitive of the postfix 
lach, and not of loch, a lake, which makes locha in 
the genitive. 

Wells have been at all times held in veneration 

in Ireland. It appears from the most ancient 

Lives of St. Patrick, and from other authorities, 

that before the introduction of Christianity, they 

VOL. i. 30 

4f>0 Physical Features. [PART iv 

were not only venerated, but actually worshipped, 
both in Ireland and Scotland. Thus in Adamnan's 
Life of St. Columba we read : " Another time, 
remaining for some days in the country of thePicts, 
the holy man (Columba) heard of a fountain famous 
amongst this heathen people, which foolish men, 
blinded by the devil, worshipped as a divinity. . . 
The pagans, seduced by these things, paid di- 
vine honour to the fountain" (Lib. II. Cap. xi ). 
And Tirechan relates in the Book of Armagh, that 
St. Patrick, in his progress through Ireland, came 
to a fountain called Slan [Slaun], which the 
druids worshipped as a god, and to which they 
used to offer sacrifices. Some of the well customs 
that have descended even to our own day, seem to 
be undoubted vestiges of this pagan adoration (see 
2nd Vol., Chap. v.). 

After the general spread of the Faith, the 
people's affection for wells was not only retained 
out intensified ; for most of the early preachers of 
the Gospel established their humble foundations 
many of them destined to grow in after years into 
great religious and educational institutions be- 
side those fountains, whose waters at the same time 
supplied the daily wants of the little communities, 
and served for the baptism of converts. In this 
manner most of our early saints became associated 
with wells, hundreds of which still retain the 
names of these holy men, who converted and bap- 
tised the pagan multitudes on their margins. 

The most common Irish name for a well is tobar; 
it enters into names all over Ireland, and it is 
subject to very little alteration from its original 
form. Tober is the name of about a dozen town- 
lands, and begins those of more than 130 others, 
all of them called from wells, and many from 
.veils associated with the memory of patron saints. 

CHAP, iv.] Water, Lakes, and Springs. 451 

The following are a few characteristic examples. 
At Ballintober in Mayo, there was a holy well 
called Tober Stingle, which was blessed by St 
Patrick ; and the place was therefore called Ballin- 
tober Patrick, the town of St. Patrick's well, which 
is its general name in the annals. It was also called 
Baik-na-craibhi [Ballynacreeva : Book of Lecan], 
the town of the branchy tree, which is still partly 
retained in the name of the adjacent townland 
of Creevagh. This well has quite lost its venerable 
associations; for it is called merely Tobermore 
(great well), and is not esteemed holy. The place 
is now chiefly remarkable for the fine ruins of the 
abbey erected by Cathal of the red hand, king of 
Connaught, in the year 1216 (see O'Donovan in 
" Hy Fiachrach," p. 1 91) . Ballintober and Bally- 
tober (the town of the well), are the names of 
about twenty- four townlands distributed through 
the four provinces (see p. 264 supra). 

Tobercurry in Sligo is called in Irish, and 
written by Mac Firbis, Tobar-an-choire, the well 
of the caldron, from its shape. Carrowntober, 
the name of many townlands, signifies the quarter- 
land of the well. Toberbunny near Cloughran in 
Dublin signifies the well of the milk (Tobar- 
bainne}, and Toberlownagh in Wicklowhas nearly 
the same meaning (Tobar-leamhnachta : kamhnacht 
[lownaghtj, new milk) ; both being so called 
probably from the softness of their waters. Some 
wells take their names from the picturesque old 
trees that overshadow them, and which are pre- 
served by the people with great veneration ; such 
as Toberbilly in Antrim, Tobar-bile the well of the 
ancient tree ; the same name as Tobera villa north- 
east of Moate in Westmeath. 

In case of some holy wells, it was the custom 
to visit them and perform devotions on particular 

452 Physical Features. [PART TV. 

days of the week ; and this has been commemorated 
by such names as Toberaheena, which is that of a 
well and village in Tipperary, signifying the well 
of Friday. A great many wells in different parts 
of the country are called Tobar-righ-an-domhnaigh 
[Toberreendowney : see p. 319], literally the well 
of the king of Sunday (i. e. of God) ; one of which 
gave name to the village of Toberreendoney in 
Galway. It is probable that these were visited on 
Sundays, and they are generally called in English, 
Sunday's Well, as in case of the place of that 
name near Cork. 

Sometimes to bar takes the form of Tipper, which 
is the name of a parish in Kildare, and of two 
townlands in Longford ; Tipperstown in Dublin 
and Kildare is only a half translation from Baile- 
an-tobair, the town of the well ; Tipperkevin, St. 
Kevin's well. Of similar formation is Tibber- 
aghny, the name of a townland and parish in 
Kilkenny, which the annalists write Tiobraid- 
FacMna [Tibbradaghna], St. Faghna's well. Oc- 
casionally the t is changed to h by aspiration, as 
in Mohober in the parish of Lismalin in Tipperary, 
which Clyn, in his annals, writes Moytobyr, the 
field or plain of the well. 

In Cormac's Glossary and other ancient docu- 
ments, we find another form of this word, namely, 
tipra, whose genitive is tiprat, and dative tiprait. 
In accordance with the principle noticed at p. 33, 
supra, the dative tiprait, or as it is written in the 
later Irish writings, tiobraid [tubbrid], gives name 
to sixteen townlands scattered through the four 
provinces, now called Tubbrid. Geoffrey Keating 
the historian was parish priest of Tubbrid near 
Cahir in Tipperary, where he died about the year 
1650, and was buried in the churchyard. The 
word takes other modern forms, as we find in 

CHAP, iv.] Water, Lakes, and Springs. 453 

Clontibret in Monaghan, which the annalists write 
Cluain-tiobrat, the meadow of the spring. The 
well that gave name to the town of Tipperary, 
and thence to the county, was situated near the 
Main-street, but it is now closed up ; it is called 
in all the Irish authorities, Tiobraid-Arann [Tu- 
brid-Auran] the well of Ara (Ara, gen. Arann), 
the ancient territory in which it was situated. 
Other forms are exhibited in Aghatubrid in 
Donegal, Cork, and Kerry, the field of the well, the 
same as Aghintober elsewhere ; in Ballintubbert 
and Ballintubbrid, the same as Ballintober ; and 
in Kiltubbrid, the same name as Kiltober, the 
church of the well* 

Varan or fuaran is explained by Colgan, " a 
living fountain of fresh or cold water springing 
from the earth." It is not easy to say whether 
the initial /is radical or not; if it be, the word is 
obviously derived from fuar, cold ; if not, it comes 
from ur, fresh ; and Colgan's explanation leaves 
the question undecided. 

This word gives name to Oranmore in Galway, 
which the Four Masters call Uaran-mor, great 
spring. Oran in Roscommon was once a place of 
great consequence, and is frequently mentioned in 
the annals ; it contains the ruins of a church and 
round tower ; and the original uaran or spring is 
a holy well, which to this day is much frequented 
by pilgrims. 

Oran occurs pretty often in names, such as 
Knockanoran (knock, a hill), in Queen's County 
and Cork; Ballinoran and Ballynoran (Bally, a 
town), the names of many townlands through the 
four provinces ; Tinoran in Wicklow, Tigh-an- 
uarain, the house of the spring ; Carrickanoran in 
Kilkenny and Monaghan (Carrick, a rock) ; and 
Lickoran, the name of a parish in Waterford, the 
flag-stone of the cold spring. 

454 Physical Features [PABT iv. 



THE Irish language has two principal words for a 
river dbh or abha [aw or ow] and abhainn, which 
are identified in meaning in Cormac's Glossary, in 
the following short passage : " Abh, i. e. abhainn." 
There are many streamlets in Ireland designated 
by dbh; and it also enters into the names of 
numerous townlands and villages, which have a 
stream flowing through or by them. So far as 
I have yet observed, I find that abh is used only 
in the southern half of Ireland. 

The word is used simply as the name of a small 
river in Wicklow, the Ow, i. e. the river, rising on 
the south-eastern slope of Lugnaquillia ; Awbeg, 
Owbeg, or Owveg, little river, is the name of 
many streams, so called to distinguish them from 
larger rivers near them, or to which they are 
tributary. The Ounageeragh, the river of the 
sheep (Abh-na-gcaerach), is a tributary of the 
Funcheon in Cork ; Finnow is the name of several 
small streams, signifying white or transparent 
river ; there is a place a few miles east of Tip- 
perary called Cahervillahowe, the stone fort of the 
old tree (bile) of the river ; and Ballynahow, the 
town of the river, is a townland name of frequent 
occurrence in Munster, but not found elsewhere. 

Abhainn [owen], which corresponds with the 
Sanscrit avani, is in much more general use than 
abh; and it is the common appellative in the 
spoken language for a river. It is generally angli- 
cised awn or owen, and there are great numbers of 

CHAP, v.] Rivers, Streamlets, and Waterfalls. 455 

river names through the country formed from 
these words. Abhainn-mor, great river, is the 
name of many rivers in Ireland, now generally 
called Avonmore or Owenmore ; this was and is 
still, the Irish name of the Blackwater in Cork 
(often called Broadwater by early Anglo-Irish 
writers), and also of the Blackwater in Ulster, 
flowing into Lough Neagh by Charlemont. 

The word abhainn has three different forms in 
the genitive, viz., abhann, abhanna, and aibhne 
[oun, ouna, ivne], which are illustrated in the 
very common names Ballynahown, Ballynahone, 
Ballynahowna, and Ballynahivnia, all signifying 
the town of the river. 

Abhnach [ounagh] is an adjective formation 
from abhainn, signifying literally " abounding in 
rivers," but applied to a marshy or watery place ; 
and it gives name to Ounagh in Sligo ; and to 
Onagh in Wicklow. The name of Glanworth in 
Cork is written in the Book of Eights, Gkann- 
amhnach [Glanounagh], i. e. the watery or marshy 
glen ; but its present Irish name is Gleann-iubhair 
[Glanoor], the glen of the yew-tree ; and I believe 
that it is from this, and not from the Gleann* 
amhnach, the anglicised form has been derived. 
The parish of Boyounagh in Galway takes its 
name from the original church, which is situated 
in a bog, and which the Four Masters call Buidhe* 
amhnach [Bweeounagh] i. e. yellow marsh, proba 
bly from the yellowish colour of the grass or 
flowers. Boyanagh and Boyannagh, the names 
of places in Roscommon, Leitrim, and Westmeath, 
are slightly different in form though identical in 
meaning, the latter part being eanach, another 
name for a marsh (see p. 461 infra) ; and Boynagh 
in Meath may be either the one or the other. 

Glaise, or glais or glas [glasha, glash, glas], 

456 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

signifies a small stream, a rivulet ; it is very often 
used to give names to streams, and thence to 
townlands, all over Ireland, and its usual angli- 
cised forms are glaska, glash and glush. Glashawee 
and Glashaboy, yellow streamlet, are the names of 
several little rivers and townlands in Cork ; and 
there is a place near Ardstraw in Tyrone, called 
Glenglush, the glen of the streamlet. The little 
stream flowing into the sea at Glasthule near 
Kingstown in Dublin, has given the village 
the name: Glas-TuathaiL Thoohal's or Toole's 
streamlet. Douglas is very common both as a 
river and townland designation all over the 
country, and it is also well known in Scotland : 
its Irish form is Dubhghlaise, black stream ; and 
in several parts of the country it assumes the 
forms of Douglasha and Dooglasha, which are the 
names of many streams. 

There is a little streamlet at Glasnevin near 
Dublin, which winds in a pretty glen through the 
classic grounds of Delville, and joins the Tolka at 
the bridge. In far remote ages, beyond the view 
of history, long before St. Mobhi established his 
monastery there in the sixth century, some old 
pagan chief named Naeidhe [Nee] must have 
resided on its banks ; from him it was called Glas- 
Naeidhen [Glasneean : Four Mast.], i. e. Naeidhe' s 
streamlet ; and the name gradually extended to 
the village, while its original application is quite 
forgotten. This ancient name is modernised to 
Glasnevin by the change of dh to v (see p. 54, supra}. 

The diminutive Glasheen is also in frequent use 
as a territorial designation ; Glasheenaulin near 
Castlehaven in Cork, signifies literally beautiful 
little streamlet ; Glasheena or Glashina is " a place 
abounding in little streams ; " and Ardglushin in 
Cavan, signifies the height of the little rivulet. 

CHAP, v.] Hivers, Streamlets, and Waterfalls. 457 

Sruth [sruh] means a stream, and is in very 
common use both in the spoken and written lan- 
guage. It is an ancient and primitive word in 
Irish, being found in the Wb. MS. of Zeuss, where 
it glosses flumen, rivus; it is almost identical with 
Sansc. srdta, a river; and its cognates exist in 
several other languages, such as Welsh frut, 
Cornish frot, Slavonic struja, Old High German 
stroum, Eng. stream (Ebel). 

Sruth occurs pretty often in names, and its 
various derivatives, especially the diminutives, 
have also impressed themselves extensively on the 
nomenclature of the country. In its simple form 
it gives names to Srue in Gralway ; to Shruh in 
"Waterford ; and to Shrough in Tipperary ; 
Ballystrew near Downpatrick is the town of the 

Sruthair [sruhar], a derivative from sruth, is in 
still more general use, and signifies also a stream ; 
it undergoes various modern modifications, of 
which the commonest is the change of the final r 
to / (see p. 48). Abbeyshrule in Longford was 
anciently called Sruthair, i. e. the stream, and it 
took its present name from a monastery founded 
there by one of the O'Farrells. Abbeystrowry in 
Cork is the same name, and it was so called from the 
stream that also gives name to Bealnashrura (ford- 
mouth of the stream), a village situated at an 
ancient ford. Struell near Downpatrick is written 
Strohill in the Taxation of 1306, showing that the 
change from r to / took place before that early 
period ; but the r is retained in a grant of about 
the year of 1178, in which the place is called 
Tirestruther, the land of the streamlet. The cele- 
brated wells of St. Patrick are situated here, which 
in former times were frequented by persons from 
all quarters ; and the stream flowing from them 

458 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

must have given the place its name (see Reeves' s 
Eccl. Ant., pp. 42, 43). The change of r to / 
appears also in Sroolane and Srooleen, which are 
often applied to little streams in the south, and 
which are the names of some townlands. 

Sruthan [sruhaun], the diminutive of sruth, 
enters very often into local names in every part of 
Ireland ; and it is peculiarly liahle to alteration, 
both by corruption and by grammatical inflexion, 
so that it is often completely disguised in modern 
names. In its simple form it gives name to 
Sroughan in Wicklow ; and with a t inserted (p. 
60), and the aspirate omitted, to Stroan in Antrim, 
Kilkenny, and Cavan. The sound of th in this 
word is often changed to that of f (p. 52), con- 
verting it to sruffan or sruffaun, a term in common 
use in some parts of Ireland, especially in Galway, 
for a small stream. And lastly, the substitution 
of t for s by eclipse (p. 22), leads to still further 
alteration, which is exemplified in Killeenatruan 
in Longford, Cillin-a -tsruthain, the little church 
of the stream ; Carntrone in Fermanagh, the earn 
or monumental heap of the streamlet. 

Feadan [f addaun] is a common word for a brook, 
and it enters largely into local names; it is a 
diminutive of fead [fad], and the literal meaning 
of both is a pipe, tube, or whistle ; whence in a 
secondary sense, they came to be applied to those 
little brooks whose channels are narrow and deep, 
like a tube. 

From this word we get such names as Faddan, 
Feddan, Fiddan, Fiddane, &c. ; Fiddaunnageeroge 
near Crossmolina in Mayo, is the little brook of 
the keeroges or chafers. With the / sound sup- 
pressed under the influence of the article (p. 27), 
we have Ballyneddan in Down and Ballineddan 
in Wicklow, Baile-an-fheadain, the town of the 

CHAP, v.] Rivers, Streamlets, and Waterfalls. 459 

streamlet. Fedany in Down, is from the Irish 
Feadanach, which signifies a streamy place. 

Iribhear [inver], old Irish inbir (Cor. OH.), means 
the mouth of a river ; "a bay into which a river 
runs, or a long narrow neck of the sea, resembling 
a river " (Dr. Todd). The word is pretty common 
in Ireland, and equally so in Scotland, generally 
in the form of inver, but it is occasionally ob- 
scured by modern contraction. At A.D. 639, the 
Four Masters record the death of St. Dagan of 
Inbhear-Daeile [Invereela], i. e. the mouth of the 
river Deel ; this place, which lies in Wicklow, 
four miles north from Arklow, retains the old 
name, modernised to Ennereilly, though the river 
is no longer called the Deel, but the Pennycome- 
quick. The townland of Dromineer in Tipperary, 
which gives name to a parish, is situated where 
the Nenagh river enters Lough Derg ; and hence 
it is called in Irish Druim-inbhir, the ridge of the 

It would appear that waterfalls were objects of 
special notice among the early inhabitants of this 
country, for almost every fall of any consequence 
in our rivers has a legend of its own, and has 
impressed its name on the place in which it is 
situated. The most common Irish word for a 
waterfall is eas [ass] or ess, gen. easa [assa] ; and 
the usual modern forms are, for the nominative, 
ass and ess, and often for the genitive, assa and 
assy, but sometimes ass or ess. 

Doonass near Castleconnell was so called from 
the great rapid on the Shannon, the Irish name 
being Dun-easa, the fortress of the cataract ; but 
its ancient name was Eas-Danainne [Ass-Danniny: 
Four Mast.], the cataract of the lady Danann (for 
whom see p. 164, supra). The old name of the 
fall at Caherass near Groom in Limerick, was Ess- 

460 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

Maighe [Ass-Ma : Book of Leinster], i. e. the 
waterfall of the river Maigue ; and the name 
Caherass was derived, like Doonass, from a fort 
built on its margin. There is a fall on the river 
that flows through Mountmellick in Queen's 
Bounty, which has given to the stream the name 
jf Owenass ; in Glendalough is a well-known dell 
where a rivulet falls from a rock into a deep clear 
pool, hence called Pollanass, the pool of the 
waterfall ; and the same name in another form, 
Poulanassy, occurs in the parish of Kilmacow, 

The Avonbeg forms the Ess fall, at the head of 
Glenmalure in "Wicklow ; and the Vartry as it 
enters the Devil's Glen, is precipitated over a series 
of rocky ledges, from which the place is called 
Bonanass, a local corruption of Bellanass, the ford 
of the cataracts (as Ballinalee in the same county, 
properly Bellanalee, is locally called Bonalee : 
(see p. 470, infra}. Ballyness, the town (or per- 
haps in some cases the ford) of the waterfall, is 
the name of seven townlands in the northern 
counties ; and the diminutive Assan, Assaun, 
Essan, and Essaun, are also very common. 

The beautiful rapid on the Owenmore river at 
Ballysadare in Sligo, has given name to the village. 
It was originally called Easdara [Assdara], the 
cataract of the oak ; or according to an ancient 
legend, the cataract of Red Dara, a Fomorian druid 
who was slain there by Lewy of the long hand 
(see pp. 162, 202). It afterwards took the name 
of Baile-easa-Dara [Ballyassadarra : Four Mast.], 
the town of Dara's cataract, which has been short- 
ened to the present name. 

Scarddn signifies a small cascade : an eas is a 
fall of a considerable body of water : a scarddn is 
formed by the fall of a streamlet or feaddn (p. 458). 

CHAP, vi.] Marshes and Bogs. 461 

From this word several townlands in the western 
and north-western counties are called Scardan, 
Scardaun, and Scardans all named from little 



THERE are several words in Irish to denote a 
marsh, all used in the formation of names ; but in 
thousands of cases the marshes have been drained, 
and the land placed under cultivation, the names 
alone remaining to attest the existence of swamps 
in days long past. One of these words, eanach 
[annagh], signifies literally a watery place, and is 
derived from ean, water. In some parts of the 
country it is applied to a cut-out bog, an applica- 
cation easily reconcilable with the original signi- 
fication. It appears generally in the forms Annagh, 
Anna, and Anny, and these, either simply or in 
combination, give names to great numbers of 
places in every part of the country. 

Annaduff in Leitrim is called by the Four 
Masters, Eanagh-dubh, black marsh ; Annabella 
near Mallow has an English look ; but it is the 
Irish Eanach-bile, the marsh of the UlS or old tree; 
Annaghaskin in Dublin, near Bray, the morass of 
the eels (easgan, an eel). As a termination this 
word generally becomes -army or -enny, in accord- 
ance with the sound of the genitive eanaigh ; as in 
Grortananny in Gal way, the field of the marsh ; 
Inchenny in Tyrone, which the Four Masters call 
Inis-eanaigh, the island or river-holm of the marsh 

462 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

There are several places in Munster called Rath- 
army the fort of the marsh ; and Legananny the 
lug or hollow of the marsh, is the name of two 
townlands in Down. In some of the northern 
counties, this form is adopted in the beginning of 
the name (p. 33), as in Annyalty in Monaghan, 
the marsh of the flocks (ealta). 

Carcach, a marsh low swampy ground : it is 
used in every part of Ireland, and assumes various 
forms, which will be best understood from the 
following examples. 

After St. Finbar, in the sixth century, had 
spent some years in the wild solitude of Loch Ire, 
now Gougane Barra, St. Barra's or Finbar's rock- 
cleft, at the source of the Lee, he changed his 
residence, and founded a monastery on the edge 
of a marsh near the mouth of the same river, 
round which a great city subsequently grew up. 
This swampy place was known for many hundred 
years afterwards by the name of Corcach-mor or 
Corcach-mor-mumhan [Mooan], the great marsh of 
Munster ; of which only the first part has been 
retained, and even that shortened to one syllable 
in the present name of Cork. The city is still, 
however, universally called Corcach by those who 
speak Irish ; and the memory of the old swamp is 
perpetuated in the name of The Marsh, which is 
still applied to a part of the city. 

Corkagh is the name of several places in other 
counties ; while in the form of Corkey it is found 
in Antrim and Donegal. And we often meet with 
the diminutives, Curkeen, Curkin, and Corcaghan, 
little marsh. Corcas, another form of the word, 
is also very common, and early English topo- 
graphical writers on Ireland often speak of the 
corcasses or marshes as very numerous. It has 
given names to many places in the northern coun- 

CHAP, vi.] Marshes and Bogs. 463 

ties, now called Corkish, Curkish, Corcashy, 
Corkashy, &c. 

Cuirreach, or as it is written in modern Irish, 
currach, has two meanings, a racecourse, and a 
morass. In its first sense it gives name to the 
Curragh of Kildare, which has been used as a 
racecourse from the most remote ages.* In the 
second sense, which is the more general, it enters 
into names in the forms Curra, Curragh, and 
Curry, which are very common through the four 
provinces. Curraghmore, great morass, is the 
name of nearly thirty townlands scattered over the 
sountry ; Currabaha and Currabeha, the marsh of 
the birch-trees. There are more than thirty 
places, all in Munster, called Curraheen, little 
marsh : and this name is sometimes met with in 
the forms Currin and Curreen. 

Sescenn, a quagmire, a marshy, boggy, or sedgy 
place ; it occurs in Cormac's Glossary, where it is 
given as the equivalent of cuirreach. It is used in 
giving names to places throughout the four 
provinces ; and its usual modern forms are Sheskin 
and Seskin. Seskinrea in Carlow, grey marsh ; 
Sheskinatawy in the parish of Inver, Donegal, 
Sescenn-a'-tsamhaidh, the. marsh of the sorrel. 
When it comes in as a termination, the initial s is 
often eclipsed by t (p. 23) ; as we see in Ballin- 
teskin, the name of several places in Leinster. in 
Irish Baile-an-tsescinn, the town of the quagmire. 

Riasg or riasc [reesk] signifies a moor, marsh, 
or fen. There are twenty -two townlands scattered 
through the four provinces, called Biesk, Reisk, 
Risk, and Reask ; and near Finglas in Dublin, is 
a place called Kilreisk, the church of the morass. 

* See Mr. Hennessy's interesting paper " On the Curragh >f 
Kildare," Proc. R.I.A. 

464 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

Rusg is another form of the same word, which is 
much used in local nomenclature, though it is not 
given in the dictionaries ; occurring commonly as 
Roosk and Rusk. The old church that gave name 
to the parish of Tullyrusk in Antrim, stood in the 
present graveyard, which occupies the summit of 
a gentle hill, rising from marshy ground : hence 
the name, which Colgan writes Tulach-ruisc, the 
hill of the morass (Reeves, Eccl. Ant., p. 6). The 
adjective forms rusgach and rusgaidh [roosky], are 
in still more general use ; they give names to all 
those places called Roosky, Rooskagh, Roosca, 
Rousky, and Rusky, of which there are about fifty 
in the four provinces, all of which were originally 
fenny or marshy places ; Ballyroosky in Donegal, 
the town of the marsh. 

Cala or caladh [calla] has two distinct meanings, 
reconcilable, however, with each other: 1. In 
some parts of Ireland it means a ferry, or a land- 
ing-place for boats ; 2. In Longford, Westmeath, 
Roscommon, Gralway, &c., and especially along the 
course of the Shannon, it is used to signify a low 
marshy meadow along a river or lake which is 
often flooded in winter, but always grassy in 
summer. Callow, the modernised form, is quite 
current as an English word in those parts of the 
country, a " callow meadow" being a very usual 
expression ; and it forms part of the names of a 
great many places. 

There is a parish in Tipperary called Temple- 
achally, the church of the callow. Ballinchalla is 
now the name of a parish verging on Lough Mask 
in Mayo. The Four Masters call it the Port of 
Lough Mask, and it is also called in Irish the 
Cala of Lough Mask, both meaning the landing- 
place of Lough Mask : the present name is angli- 
cised from the Irish Baile-an-chala, the town of 
the callow or Ian ling-place. 

CHAP, vi.] Marshes and Bogs. 465 

Maethail [mwayhill] signifies soft or spongy 
land, from the root maeth [mway], soft. The best 
known example of its use is Mohill in the county 
Leitrim, which is called in Irish authorities, 
Maethail-Manchain, from St Manchan or Mon- 
aghan, who founded a monastery there in the 
seventh century, and who is still remembered. 
The parish of Mothel in Waterford is called 
Moethail-Bhrogain in O'Clery's Calendar, from St. 
Brogan, the patron, who founded a monastery 
there ; and there is another parish in Kilkenny 
called Mothell ; in both of which the aspirated t 
is restored (see p. 43). The term is very correctly 
represented by Moyhill in Clare and Heath ; and we 
find it also in other names, such as Cahermohill or 
Cahermoyle in Limerick, the stone fort of the soft 
land ; Knockmehill in Tipperary, the soft-surfaced 
hifl ; and Corraweehill in Leitrim, the round-hill 
of the wet land (see Dr. Reeves' s learned essay 
" On the Culdees," Trans. R.I.A., XXIV., 175). 
Imleach [imlagh] denotes land bordering on a 
lake, and hence a marshy or swampy place ; the 
root appears to be imeal, a border or edge. It is 
a term in pretty common use in names, principally 
in the forms Emlagh and Emly. The most re- 
markable place whose name is derived from this 
word, is the village of Emly in Tipperary, well 
known as the ancient see of St. Ailbe, one of the 
primitive Irish saints. In the Book of Lismore, 
and indeed in all the Irish authorities, it is called 
Imleach-iubhair, the lake marsh of the yew-tree. 
The lake, on the margin of which St. Ailbe 
selected the site for his establishment, does not 
now exist, but it is only a few years since the last 
vestige of it was drained. 

Miliuc [meelick], is applied to low marshy 
ground, or to land bordering on a lake or river, 
VOL. i. 31 

466 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

and seems synonymous with imleach. It occurs in 
Leinster, Munster, and Ulster, but it is much 
more general in Connaught than in the other 
provinces ; and in the form Meelick it is the name 
of about 30 townlands. The old anglicised name 
of Mountmellick in Queen's County, which is even 
still occasionally heard among the people, is 
Montiaghmeelick, i. e. the bogs or boggy land of 
the meelick or marsh ; and the latter part of the 
name is still retained by the neighbouring townland 
of Meelick. 

Murbhach [Murvagh], a flat piece of land ex- 
tending along the sea ; a salt marsh. The word 
occurs as a general term in Cormac's Glossary 
(voce " tond"), where the sea waves are said to 
" shave the grass from off the murbhach." In the 
Book of Rights it is spelled murmhagh, which 
points to the etymology iT-muir, the sea, and 
maghy a plain murmhagh, sea plain. 

The name occurs once in the Four Masters, 
when they mention Murbhach in Donegal, which 
is situated near Ballyshannon, and is now called 
Murvagh. In that county the word is still well 
understood, and pretty often used to give names 
to places. In other counties it is changed to 
Murvey, Murragh, Murroogh, and Murreagh ; and 
it is still further softened in the "Murrow of 
Wicklow," which is now a beautiful grassy sward, 
and affords a good illustration of the use of the 
word. There is a small plain called Murbhach, in 
the north-west end of the great island of Aran, 
from which the island itself is called in "Hy 
Fiachrach" Ara of the plain of Murbhach; and 
the name still lives as part of the compound Cill- 
Murbhaigh, the church of the sea-plain, now 
anglicised Kilmurvy. 

Muirisc [murrisk] is a sea-shore marsh, and is 

CHAP, vi.] Marshes and Bogs. 467 

nearly synonymous with murbhach. Two places 
in Connaught of this name are mentioned in the 
annals : one is a district in the north of Sligo, 
lying to the east of the river Easky ; and the other 
a narrow plain between Croagh Patrick and the 
sea, where an abbey was erected on the margin of 
the bay, which was called the abbey of Murrisk, 
and which in its turn gave name lo the barony. 

Moin [mone] a bog, corresponds with Lat. 
mom, a mountain, and the Irish word is sometimes 
understood in this sense. As may be expected 
from the former and present abundance of bogs in 
Ireland, we have a vast number of places named 
from them in every part of the country ; but in 
numerous cases the bogs are cut away, and the 
land cultivated. The syllable mon, which begins 
a great number of names, is generally to be re- 
ferred to this word ; but there are many excep- 
tions, which, however, are in general easy to be 

Monabraher, near Limerick, is called by the 
Four Masters, Moin-na-mbrathar, the bog of the 
friars ; and there are two townlands in Cork, one 
in Galway, and another in Waterf ord, of the same 
name, but spelled a little differently; the two 
latter, Monambraher and Monamraher, respec- 
tively. Monalour near Lismore, signifies the bog 
of the lepers ; Monamintra, a parish in Waterford, 
is anglicised from Moin-na-mbaintreabhaigh [Mon- 
amointree], the bog of the widows ; ^onanearla 
near Thurles, the earl's bog ; Moanmore, Monmore, 
and Monvore, great bog. 

As a termination, this word often takes the 
form of nona, as is seen in Ballynamona and 
Ballinamona, the town of the bog, the names of a 
great many places in Leinster, Connaught, and 
Munster; Knocknamona, the hill of the bog. 

468 Physical features. [PART iv. 

Sometimes the m of this termination is aspirated 
(p. 19), as in Ardvone near Ardagh in Limerick, 
which is in Irish Ardmhoin, high bog. 

The diminutive Moneen is also very much used, 
being the name of more than twenty townlands in 
all the four provinces. Moneenagunnel in King's 
County, is the little bog of the candles ; Moneena- 
brone in Cavan, the little bog of the quern ; 
Ballymoneen, the town of the little bog. There 
are two other diminutives, Mointin, and Mointedn. 
The first is the most common, and takes the 
anglicised forms Moanteen, Moneteen, and Mon- 
teen : Monteenasudder in Cork, the little bog of 
the tanner (see for tanners, 2nd Vol., Chap. vi.). 
The adjective mointeach signifies a boggy place, 
and it gives name to several places now called 
Montiagh and Montiaghs. 



ALL our native animals, without a single excep- 
tion, have been commemorated in names of places. 
In the course of long ages, human agency effects 
vast changes in the distribution of animals, as well 
as in the other physical conditions of the country ; 
some are encouraged and increased; some are 
banished to remote and hilly districts ; and others 
become altogether extinct. But by a study oi 
local names we can tell what animals formerly 
abounded, and we are able to identify the very 
spots resorted to by each particular kind. 

Some writers have attempted to show that 
certain animals were formerly worshipped in Ire- 
land, so that the literary public have lately 
become quite familiarised with such terms as 

CHAP, vii.] Animals. 469 

" bovine cultus," " porcine cultus,'' &c. ; and the 
main argument advanced is, that the names of 
those animals are interwoven with our local 
nomenclature. But if this argument be allowed, 
it will prove that our forefathers had the most ex- 
tensive pantheon of any people on the face of the 
earth : they must have adored all kinds of 
animals indiscriminately not only cows and pigs, 
but also geese, sea-gulls, and robin-redbreasts, and 
even pismires, midges, and fleas.* I instance this, 
not so much to illustrate the subject I have in 
hands, as to show to what use the study of local 
names may be turned, when not ballasted by suf- 
ficient knowledge, and directed by sound phil- 

The Cow. From the most remote ages, cows 
formed one of the principal articles of wealth of 
the inhabitants of this country ; they were in fact 
the standard of value, as money is at the present 
day; and prices, wages, and marriage portions, 
were estimated in cows by our ancestors. Of all 
the animals known in Ireland, the cow is, accord- 
ingly, the most extensively commemorated in local 

The most general Irish word for a cow is bo, not 
only at the present day, but in the oldest MSS. : 
in the Sg. MS. of Zeuss it glosses bos, with which 
it is also cognate. It is most commonly found in 
our present names in the simple form bo } which, 

* We have many names from all these ; Coumshingaun, a 
well-known valley and lake in the Cummeragh mountains, 
south-east of Clonmel, the glen of the pismires; Oloon- 
nameeltoge in the parish of Kilmainmore, Mayo, the meadow 
of the midges : in the parish of Rath, county Clare, is a hill 
called Knockaunnadrankady, the little hill of the fleas ; and 
two miles east of Kinvarra in Galway is a little hamlet 
called Ballynadrangcaty, the town of the fleas. See 2nd VoL 
Chap. XYIII. 

470 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

when it is a termination, is usually translated 
" of the cow," though it might be also " of the 

Aghaboe in Queen's County, where St. Canice 
of Kilkenny had his principal church, is mentioned 
by many Irish authorities, the most ancient of 
whom is Adamnan, who has the following passage 
in Vit. Col., II. 13, which settles the meaning : 
" St. Canice being in the monastery which is called 
in Latin Campulus bovis (i. e. the field of the cow), 
but in Irish Achadbou." This was the name of 
the place before the time of St. Canice, who ad- 
opted it unchanged. The parish of Drumbo in 
Down is called Druimbo by the Four Masters, that 
is, the cow's ridge : Dunboe in Londonderry, and 
Arboe in Tyrone, the fortress and the height of 
the cow. 

When the word occurs in the end of names in 
the genitive plural, the b is often eclipsed by m 
(p. 22), forming the termination -namoe, of the 
cows ; as in Annamoe in Wicklow, which would 
be written in Irish Ath-na-mbo, the ford of the 
cows, indicating that the old ford, now spanned by 
a bridge at the village, was the usual crossing- 
place for the cows of the neighbourhood. At 
Carrigeennamoe near Middleton in Cork, the people 
were probably in the habit of collecting their cows 
to be milked, for the name signifies the little rock 
of the cows. 

Laegh [lea] means a calf ; it enters into names 
generally in the form of lee ; and this, and the 
articled terminations, -nalee and -nalea, are of fre- 
quent occurrence, signifying "of the calves." 
Ballinalee in Longford and Wicklow, is properly 
written in Irish, Bel-atha-na-laegh, the ford-mouth 
of the calves, a name derived like Annamoe ; 
Clonleigh near Lifford is called by the Four 

CHAP, vii.] Animals. 471 

Masters, Cluain-laegh, the calves' meadow, a name 
that takes the form of Clonlee elsewhere ; in 
Wexford there is a parish of the same name, and 
in Clare another, which is called Clonlea. 

Another Irish word for a calf is gamhan [go wan], 
or in old Irish gamuin (Cor. Gl.) which is also 
much used in the formation of names ; as in Clony- 
gowan in King's County, which the annalists 
write Cluain-na-ngamhan, the meadow of the 
calves. This word must not be confounded with 
its derivative, gamhnach [gownah], which, accord- 
ing to Cormac's Glossary, means " a milking cow 
with a calf a year old;" but which in modern 
Irish is used to signify simply a stripper, i. e. a 
milk-giving cow in the second year after calving. 
Moygawnagh is the name of a parish in Mayo ; 
we find it written in an old poem in the Book of 
Lecan, Magh-gamhnach, which Colgan translates 
" Campus fcetarum swe lactescentium vaccarum," the 
plain of the milch cows. Cloongownagh in the 
parish of Tumna in Hoscommon, is written Cluain- 
gamhnach by the Four Masters, the meadow of the 
strippers ; and there is a place of the same name 
near Adare in Limerick. In anglicised names it 
is hard to distinguish between gamhan and gamh- 
nach, when no authoritative orthography of the 
name is accessible. 

A bull is called in Irish tarbh, a word which 
exists in cognate forms in many languages ; in 
the three Celtic families Old Irish, Welsh, and 
Cornish it is found in the respective forms of 
tarb, taru, and tarow, while the old Gaulish is 
tarvos ; and all these are little different from the 
Gr. tauros and Lat. taunts. A great number of 
places in every part of Ireland have taken their 
names from bulls, and the word tarbh is in general 
easily recognised in all its modern forms. 

472 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

There are several mountains in different counties 
called Knockaterriff, Knockatarriv, and Knock- 
atarry, all signifying the hill of the bull. Mona- 
tarriv near Lismore in Waterford, the bull's bog. 
Sometimes the t is aspirated to h (p. 21), as in 
Drumherriff and Drumharriff, a townland name 
common in the Ulster counties and in Leitrim, the 
ridge of the bull. Clontarf near Dublin, the scene 
of the great battle fought by Brian Boru 
against the Danes in 1014, is called in all the 
Irish authorities Cluain-tarbh, the meadow of the 
bulls ; and there are several similar names through 
the country, such as CloontarifE in Mayo, and 
Cloontarriv in Kerry. Loughaterrifi and Lough- 
atarrifE are the names of many small lakes through 
the country, the original form of which is Loch- 
an-tairbh (Four M.), the lake of the bulL 

Damh [dauv], an ox; evidently cognate with 
Lat. dama, a deer. How it came to pass that the 
same word signifies in Irish an ox, and in Latin a 
deer, it is not easy to explain.* Devenish island 
near Enniskillen, celebrated in ancient times for 
St. Molaise's great establishment, and at present 
for its round tower and other ecclesiastical ruins, 
is called in all the Irish authorities Daimh-ini$ 
[Davinish], which, in the Life of St. Aidus, is 
translated the island of the oxen ; and there are 
three other islands of the same name in Mayo, 
Roscommon, and Galway. There is a peninsula 
west of Ardara in Donegal, called Dawros Head, 
the Irish name of which is Damh-ros, the head- 

* The transfer of a name from one species of animals or 
plants to another, is a curious phenomenon, and not unfre- 
quently met with. The Greek phegos signifies an oak, while 
the corresponding Latin, Gothic, and English terms; fagus, 
bf'ka, and beech are applied to the beech-tree ; and I might 
cite several other instances. See this question curiously dia- 
cnssed in Max Muller's Lectures, 2nd Series, p. 222. 

CHAP, vii.] Ammah. 473 

land of the oxen; and there are several other 
places of the same name in Galway, Sligo, and 
Kerry. We find the word also in such names as 
Dooghcloon, Doughcloyne, and Doughloon, which 
are modern forms of Damh-chluain (Hy Fiachrach), 

In the end of names this word undergoes a 
variety of transformations. It is often changed to 
-duff, or some such form, as in Clonduff in Down, 
which is called in O'Clery's Calendar Cluain-Daimh, 
the meadow of the ox (see Reeves, Eccles. Ant., 
p. 115) ; Legaduf? in Fermanagh, and Derrindiff 
in Longford, the hollow, and the oak-wood of the 
ox. In other cases the d disappears under the influ- 
ence of aspiration (p. 20) as in Cloonaff, Clonuff, 
Cloniff, and Cloonifj, all the same names as Clon- 
duff. And often the d is eclipsed by n (p. 22), as in 
Coolnanav near Dungarvan in Waterford, Cuil-na- 
ndamh, the corner of the oxen ; Derrynanaff in 
Mayo, and Derrynanamph in Monaghan, the oak 
grove of the oxen. 

The sheep. A sheep is called in Irish caera 
[kaira], gen. caerach, which are the forms given 
in the Zeuss MSS. The word seems to have been 
originally applied to cattle in general, for we find 
that Irish caerachd denotes cattle, and in Sanscrit, 
caratha signifies pecus. It is found most com- 
monly in the end of names, forming the termina- 
tion -nageeragh, or without the article, -keeragh, 
" of the sheep," as in Ballynageeragh, the town of 
the sheep ; Meenkeeragh, the meen or mountain 
pasture of the sheep. The village of Grlenagarey 
near Kingstown in Dublin, took its name from a 
little dell, which was called in Irish, Gleann-na- 
gcaerach, the glen of the sheep ; and Glennagee- 
ragh near Clogher in Tyrone, is the same name in 
a more correct form. There are several islands 

474 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

round the coast called Inishkeeragh, the island of 
sheep, or Mutton Island, as it is sometimes trans- 
lated, which must have been so called from the 
custom of sending over sheep to graze on them in 
spring and summer. 

The horse. We have several Irish words for a 
horse, the most common of which are each and 
capall. Each [agh] is found in several families of 
languages ; the old Irish form is ech ; and it is the 
same word as the Sansc. agva, Gr. hippos (Eol. 
ikkos), Lat. equus, and old Saxon ehu. Each is 
very often found in the beginning of names, con- 
trary to the usual Irish order, and in this case it 
generally takes the modern form of augh. At 
A.D. 598, the Four Masters mention Aughris Head 
in the north of Sligo, west of Sligo bay, as the 
scene of a battle, and they call it Each-ros, the ros 
or peninsula of the horses ; there is another place 
of the same name, west of Ballymote, same county; 
and a little promontory north-west from Clifden 
in Galway, is called Aughrus, which is the same 
name. Aughinish and Aughnish are the names of 
several places in different parts of the country, and 
are anglicised from Each-inis (Four Mast.), horse 
island. They must have been so called because 
they were favourite horse pastures, like " The 
Squince,"and Horse Island, near Glandore, "which 
produce a wonderful sort of herbage that recovers 
and fattens diseased horses to admiration'' (Smith, 
Hist, of Cork, I., 271). 

In the end of names it commonly forms the 
postfix -agh ; as in Russagh in Westmeath, which 
the Four Masters write Eos-each, the wood of 
horses ; Bellananagh in Cavan, Bel-atha-na-neach, 
the ford-mouth of the horses ; Cloonagh and 
Clonagh, horse meadow. Sometimes it is in the 
genitive singular, as in Kinneigh near Iniskeen 

CHAP, vii.] Animals. 475 

in Cork, ceann-ech (Four Mast.), the head or hill 
of the horse ; the same name as Kineigh in Kerry, 
Kineagh near Kilcullen in Kildare, and Kinnea in 
Cavan and Donegal. 

Capatt, the other word for a horse, is the same 
as Gr. kaballes, Lat. caballus, and Rus. kobyla. It 
is pretty common in the end of names in the form 
of capple, or with the article, -nagappul or -nagapple, 
as in Gortnagappul in Cork and Kerry, the field 
of the horses ; Pollacappul and Poulacappul, the 
hole of the horse. 

Ldrach [lawragh] signifies a mare, and it is 
found pretty often forming a part of names. 
Cloonlara, the mare's meadow, is the name of a 
village in Clare, and of half a dozen townlands 
in Connaught and Munster; Gortnalaragh, the 
field of the mares. 

The goat. The word gabhar [gower], a goat, is 
common to the Celtic, Latin, and Teutonic lan- 
guages ; the old Irish form is gabar, which corre- 
sponds with Welsh gafar, Corn, gavar, Lat. caper, 
Ang.-Sax. haefer. This word very often takes the 
form of gower, gour, orgore in anglicised names, as 
in Glenagower in Limerick, Gleann-na-ngabhar, 
the glen of the goats ; Ballynagore, goats' town. 

The word gabar, according to the best authorities, 
was anciently applied to a horse as well as to a 
goat. In Cormac's Glossary it is stated that gabur 
is a goat, and gobur, a horse ; but the distinction 
was not kept up, for we find gabur applied to a 
horse in several very ancient authorities, such as 
the Leabhar na hTJidhre, the Book of Rights, &c. 
Colgan remarks that gabhur is an ancient Irish 
and British word for a horse ; and accordingly the 
name Loch-gabhra, which occurs in the Life of St. 
Aidus, published by him, is translated Stagnum- 
equi, the lake of the horse. This place is situated 

476 Physical Features. [PART iv, 

near Dunshaughlin in Meath, and it is now called 
Lagore; the lake has been long dried up, and 
many curious antiquities have been found in its 

The deer. Ireland formerly abounded in deer ; 
they were chased with greyhounds, and struck 
down by spears and arrows ; and in our ancient 
writings in poems, tales, and romances deer, 
stags, does, and fawns, figure conspicuously. They 
are, as might be expected, commemorated in great 
numbers of local names, and in every part of the 
country. The word fiadh [fee] originally meant 
any wild animal, and hence we have the adjective 
fiadhan [f eean] , wild ; but its meaning has been 
gradually narrowed, and in Irish writings it is 
almost universally applied to a deer. It is gener- 
ally much disguised in local names, so that it is 
often not easy to distinguish its modern forms 
from those of Jiach, a raven, and each, a horse. 
The /of ten disappears under the influence of the 
article (p. -27), and sometimes without the article, 
as will be seen in the following examples : 

The well-known pass of Keimaneigh, on the 
road from Inchigeelagh to Glengarriff in Cork, is 
called in Irish, Ceim-an-flriaidh, the keirn or pass 
of the deer, which shows that it was in former 
days the route chosen by wild deer when passing 
from pasture to pasture between the two valleys 
of .the Lee and the Ouvane ; Drumanee in Derry, 
and Knockanee in Limerick and Westmeath, both 
signify the deer's hill. There is a parish in 
Waterford, and also a townland, called Clonea, 
which very well represents the correct Irish name, 
Cluain-fhiadh, the meadow of the deer. In some 
parts of the south the final g is sounded, as in 
Knockaneag in Cork, the same as Knockanee. 
When the/ is eclipsed in the genitive plural (see 

CHAP, vii.] Animals. 477 

p. 22), it usually forms some such termination a.- 
naveigh : Gortnaveigh in Tipperary, and Gortnaven 
in Gal way, both represent the sound of the Irish. 
Gort-na-bhfiadh, the field of the deer ; Annaveagl 
in Monaghan, Ath-na-bhfiadh, deer ford. 

Os signifies a fawn. The celebrated Irish ban 
and warrior who lived in the third century of th: 
Christian era, and whose name has been change< 
to Ossian by Macpherson, is called in Irish MSS. 
Oisin [0 sheen], which signifies a little fawn; and 
the name is explained by a legend. 

In the end of names, when the word occurs in 
the genitive plural, it is usually made -nanuss, 
while in the singular, it is anglicised ish, or with 
the article, -anish. Glenish in the parish oi 
Currin, Monaghan, is written in Irish Glen-ois, the 
fawn's glen ; and there is a conspicuous mountain 
north of Macroom in Cork, called Mullaghanish, 
the summit of the fawn. Not far from Buttevani 
in the county of Cork, is a hill called Knocknanuss 
Cnoc-na-nos, the hill of the fawns where a 
bloody battle was fought in November, 1647 : in 
this battle was slain the celebrated Mac-Colkitto, 
Alasdrum More, or Alexander Macdonnell, the 
ancestor of the Macdonnells of the Glens of Antrim, 
whose chief was the late Right Honourable Sir 
Alexander Macdonnell, of the board of Education. 

Eilit, gen. eilte [ellit, elte] is a doe ; Gr. ellos, a 
fawn; O. H, Ger. elah; Ang.-Sax. elch. The 
word occurs in Irish names generally in the forms 
elty, ilty, elt, or ilt ; Clonelty in Limerick and 
Fermanagh, and Cloonelt in Hoscommon, the 
meadow of the doe : Hahelty in Kilkenny and 
Tipperary (rath, a fort) ; Annahilt in Down, 
Eanach-eitte, the doe's marsh. 

The pig. If Ireland has obtained some celebrity 
in modern times for its abundance of pigs, the 

478 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

great numbers of local names in which the animal 
is commemorated show that they abounded no less 
in the days of our ancestors. The Irish language 
has several words for a pig, but the most usual is 
muc, which corresponds with the Welsh moch, and 
Cornish moh. The general anglicised form of the 
word is muck ; and -namuck is a termination of fre- 
quent occurrence, signifying " of the pigs or pig." 
There is a well-known hill near the Galties in 
Tipperary, called Slievenamuck, the mountain of 
the pig. Ballynamuck, a usual townland name, 
signifies pig-town ; Tinamuck in King's County, 
a house (tigfi) for pigs. In Lough Derg on the 
Shannon, is a small island, much celebrated for an 
ecclesiastical establishment ; it is called in the 
annals, Muic-inis, hog island, or Muic-inis-Riagaill, 
from St. Biagal or Regulus, a contemporary of 
St. Columkille. This name would be anglicised 
Muckinish, and there are several other islands of 
the name in different parts of Ireland. 

In early times when woods of oak and beech 
abounded in this country, it was customary for 
kings and chieftains to keep great herds of swine, 
which fed in the woods on masts, and were tended 
by swine-herds. St. Patrick, it is well known, was 
a swine-herd in his youth to Milcho, king of 
Dalaradia; and numerous examples might be 
quoted from our ancient histories and poems, 
to show the prevalence of this custom. 

There are several words in Irish to denote a 
place where swine were fed, or where they resorted 
or slept ; the most common of which is muclach, 
which is much used in the formation of names. 
Mucklagh, its most usual form, is the name of 
many places in Leinster, Ulster, and Connaught ; 
and scattered over the same provinces there are 
about twenty-eight townlands called Cornamuck- 

CHAP, vii.] Animals. 479 

lagh, the round- hill of the piggeries. Muiceannach 
[nmckanagh] also signifies a swine haunt, and it 
gives names to about nineteen townlands in the 
four provinces, now called Muckanagh, Muckenagh, 
and Mucknagh. Muckelty, Mucker, Muckera, 
and Muckery, all townland names, signify still the 
same thing a place frequented by swine for feed- 
ing or sleeping. 

Tore [turk] signifies a boar ; it is found in the 
Sg. MS. of Zeuss, as a gloss an aper. Wild boars 
formerly abounded in Ireland ; they are often 
mentioned in old poems and tales ; and hunting 
the boar was one of the favourite amusements of 
the people. Turk, the usual modern form of tore, 
is found in great numbers of names. Kanturk in 
Cork is written by the Four Masters, Ceann-tuirc, 
the head or hill of the boar ; the name shows that 
the little hill near the town must have been for- 
merly a resort of one or more of these animals : 
and we may draw the same conclusion regarding 
the well-known Tore mountain at Killarney, and 
Inishturk, an island outside Clew bay in Mayo, 
which is called in " Hy Fiachrach " Inis-tuirc, the 
boar's island, a name which also belongs to several 
other islands. 

By the aspiration of the t, the genitive form 
tuirc becomes hirk ; as in Drumhirk, a name of 
frequent occurrence in Ulster, which represents 
the Irish, Druim-thuirc, the boar's ridge. And 
when the t is changed to d by eclipsis (p. 23), the 
termination durk or nadurk is formed ; as in Eden- 
durk in Tyrone, the hill-brow of the boars. 

The dog. There are two words in common use 
for a dog, cu and madadh or madradh [madda, 
maddra], which enter extensively into local names. 
Of the two forms of the latter, madradh is more 
usual in the south, and madadh in the rest of 

480 Physical Feature*. [PART iv. 

Ireland; they often form the terminations -na- 
maddy, -nam r tddoo, and -namaddra, of the dogs ; 
as in Ball} mmaddoo in Cavan, Ballynamaddree in 
Cork, and Ballynamaddy in Antrim, the town of 
the dogs, Annagh-na-maddoo, the dogs' marsh: 
or if in the genitive singular, -avaddy, -avaddoo, 
and -avaddra, of the dog ; as in Knockavaddra, 
Knockavaddy, Knockawaddra, and Knockawaddy, 
the dog's hill. 

The other word, cu, is in the modern language 
always applied to a greyhound, but according to 
O'Brien, it anciently signified any fierce dog. It 
is found in many other languages as well as Irish, 
as for example, in Greek, ktwn ; Latin, cam's; 
Welsh, ci; Gothic, hunds; English, hound; all 
different forms of the same primitive word. This 
term is often found in the beginning of names. 
The parish of Connor in Antrim appears in Irish 
records in the various forms, Condeire, Condaire, 
Condere, &c. ; and the usual substitution of modern 
nn for the ancient nd (see p. 64), changed the 
name to Conneire and Connor. In a marginal 
gloss in the Martyrology of Aengus, at the 3rd 
Sept., the name is explained as " Doire-na-con, the 
oak-wood in which were wild dogs formerly, and 
she wolves used to dwell therein " (See Reeves' s 
Eccl. Ant., p. 85). 

Conlig in Down signifies the stone of the hounds ; 
Convoy in Donegal, and Conva in Cork, both from 
Con-mhagh, hound-plain. And as a termination 
it usually assumes the same form, as in Clooncon 
and Cloncon, the hound's meadow ; except when 
the c is eclipsed (p. 22), as we find in Coolnagun 
in Tipperary and Westmeath, the corner of the 

The rabbit. It is curious that the Irish appear 
to have grouped the rabbit and the hare with two 

vu.J Animals. 481 

very different kinds of animals the former with 
the dog, and the latter with the deer. Coinin 
[cunneen], the Irish word for a rabbit, is a dimi- 
nutive of cu, and means literally a little hound ; 
the corresponding Latin word, cuniculus, is also a 
diminutive ; and the Scandinavian kanina, Danish 
kanin, and English coney, all belong to the same 

The word coinin is in general easily recognised 
in names ; for it commonly forms one of the ter- 
minations, -coneen, -nagoneen, or -nagoneeny, as in 
Kylenagoneeny, in Limerick, Coitt-na-gcoinin-idhe, 
the wood of the rabbits ; Carrickconeen in Tip- 
perary, rabbit rock. The termination is varied in 
Lisnagunnion in Monaghan, the fort of the rabbits. 

A rabbit warren is denoted by coinicer [cun- 
nickere], which occurs in all the provinces under 
several forms generally, however, easily recog- 
nised. In Carlow it is made Coneykeare ; in 
Gal way, Conicar ; in Limerick, Conigar ; and in 
King's County, Conicker. It is Connigar and 
Connigare in Kerry ; Cunnaker in Mayo ; Cun- 
nicar in Louth; Cunnigar in Waterford ; and 
Kinnegar in Donegal. In the pronunciation of 
the original the c and n coalesce very closely (like 
c and n in cnoc, p. 381.), and the former is often 
only faintly heard. In consequence of this the c 
sometimes disappears altogether from anglicised 
names, of which Nicker in Limerick, and Nickeres 
(rabbit warrens) in Tipperary, afford characteristic 

The wolf. This island, like Great Britain, was 
formerly much infested with wolves ; they were 
chased like the wild boar, partly for sport, and 
partly with the object of exterminating them : and 
large doge of a particular race, called wolfdogs, 
which have only very recently become extinct, 
VOL. i. 32 

482 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

were kept and trained for the purpose. After the 
great war in the seventeeth century, wolves 
increased to such an extent, and their ravages 
became so great, as to call for state interference, 
and wolf- hunters were appointed in various parts 
of Ireland. The last wolf was killed only about 
160 years ago. 

In Irish there are two distinct original words 
for a woli,fael and breach. Fael, though often 
found in old writings, is not used by itself in the 
modern language, the general word for a wolf now 
being faelchu, formed by adding cu, a hound to the 
original. There is a little rocky hill near Swords 
in Dublin, called Feltrim, the name of which 
indicates that it must have been formerly a 
retreat of wolves ; in a gloss in the Felire of 
Aengus, it is written Faeldruim [Faildrum], i. e. 

The other term breach is more frequently found 
in local names, especially in one particular com- 
pound, written by the four Masters Breach-mhagh 
[breagh-vah], wolf -field, which in various modern 
forms gives names to about twenty townlands. In 
Clare, it occurs eight times, and it is anglicised 
Breaghva, except in one instance where it is made 
Breaffy ; in Donegal, Longford, and Armagh, it 
is Breaghy ; in Sligo and Mayo, Breaghwy ; while 
in Fermanagh (near Enniskillen) it becomes 
Breagho ; and in Kerry, Breahig. In Cork it is 
still further corrupted to Britway, the name of a 
parish, which in Pope Nicholas's Taxation is 
written Breghmagh. The worst corruption of all. 
however, is Brackley, now the name of a lake in 
the north of the parish of Templeporfc in Cavan. 
It contains a little island on which the celebrated 
St. Maidoc of Ferns was born, called in old 
authorities Inis-breachmhaighe [Inish-breaghwy], 

CHAP. vii. J Animah 483 

the island of the wolf -field ; and the latter part of 
this was made Brackley, which is now the name 
of both island and lake. Caherbreagh in the 
parish of Ballymacelligot, east of Tralee, took its 
name from a stone fort which must have been at 
one time a haunt of these animals : Cathair -breach, 
the caher of wolves. 

There is still another term though not an 
original one for a wolf namely, mac-tire 
[macteera], which is given as the equivalent of 
brech in a gloss on an ancient poem in the Book 
of Leinster; it literally signifies "son of the 
country," in allusion to the lonely haunts of the 
animal. By this name he is commemorated in 
Knockaunvicteera, the little hill of the wolf, a 
townland in the parish of Kilmoon, Clare, where, 
no doubt, some old wolf long baffled the hunts- 
man's spear, and the wolfdog's fang. There is 
a lake in the parish of Dromod in Kerry, about 
four miles nearly east of Lough Curraun or Water - 
ville Lake, called Iskanamacteera, the water (uisce) 
of the wolves. 

The fox. Sionnach [Shinnagh] is the Irish word 
for a fox genitive sionnaigh [shinny] ; it often 
occurs in the end of names, in the forms -shinny 
and -shinnagh ; as in Monashinnagh, in Limerick, 
the bog of the foxes; Coolnashinnagh in Tip- 
perary, and Coolnashinny in Cavan, the foxes' 
corner : Aghnashannagh, field (achadh] of the 
foxes. Sometimes the s is eclipsed by t (in the 
genitive singular), and then the termination be- 
comes tinny, as in Coolatinny in Tyrone and lips- 
common ; cuil-a'-tsionnaigh, the corner of the fox. 
But this termination, tinny, may sometimes repre- 
sent teine, fine (see p. 216'. 

The badger. These animals, like many others, 
must have been much more common formerly than 

484 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

now, as there are numbers of places all over 
Ireland deriving their names from them. The 
Irish word for a badger is broc [brack] ; it is usually 
anglicised brock, and it is very often found as a 
termination in the forms -brock, -nabrock, and 
-namrock, all signifying "of the badgers." Clon- 
brock, in Galway, the seat of Lord Clonbrock, is 
called in Irish, Cluain-broc, the meadow of the 
badgers ; and the same name occurs in King's and 
Queen's Counties; while it takes the form of 
Cloonbrock in Longford ; Meenabrock in Done- 
gal, the meen or mountain meadow of the 

Brocach signifies a haunt of badgers a badger 
warren, and gives names to a great many town- 
lands in the four provinces, now called Brockagh, 
Brocka, and Brockey. In Cormac's Glossary the 
form used is broiceannach, which is represented by 
Bruckana in Kilkenny, and by Brockna in 
Wicklow (like Muckenagh, p. 479). There are 
several Irish modifications of this word in different 
parts of the country, which have given rise to 
corresponding varieties in anglicised names; such 
as Brockernagh in King's County, Brocklagh in 
Longford ; Brockley in Cavan ; Brockra and 
Brockry in Queen's County ; all meaning a badger 

Birds. Among the animals whose names are 
found impressed on our local nomenclature, birds 
hold a prominent place, almost all our native 
species being commemorated. En [ain] is the 
Irish for a bird at the present day as well as from 
the most remote antiquity, the word being found 
in the Sg. MS. of Zeuss, as a gloss on avis. 
It appears under various modifications in con- 
siderable numbers of names, often forming the 
termination naneane, of the birds ; as in Rathnan- 

CHAP, vii.] Animals. 485 

eane and Ardnaneane in Limerick, the fort, and 
the height of the birds. 

The eagle. In several wild mountainous districts, 
formerly the haunts of eagles, these birds are 
remembered in local names. lolar [iller] is the 
common Irish word for an eagle, and in anglicised 
names it usually forms an terminations -iller, -ilra, 
and -ulra ; as in Slieveanilra, the eagle's mountain, 
in Clare ; and Coumaniller, the eagle's hollow, on 
the side of Keeper Hill in Tipperary, under a 
rocky precipice. The word assumes other forms 
as for example, in Drumillard, the name of four 
townlands in Monaghan, which is the same as 
Drumiller in Cavan, the ridge of the eagle. There 
is a hill on the borders of Tyrone and Derry called 
Craiganuller, the eagle's rock. 

Seabhac [shouk or shoke], old Irish seboc, means 
a hawk, and is cognate with the Welsh hebawg, 
Ang.-Sax. hafok, and Eng. hawk. It forms part 
of the name of Carrickshock, a well-known place 
near Knocktopher in Kilkenny, which is called in 
Irish Carraig-seabhaic, the hawk's rock, nearly the 
same name as Carricknashoke in Cavan. The 
initial s is often eclipsed by t, as in Craigatuke, v in 
Tyrone, and Carrigatuke, near Keady, in Armagh, 
Craig-a'-tseabhaic and Carraig-a?-tseabhaic, both the 
same name as Carrickshock. 

Croics. The different species of the crow kind 
are very well distinguished in Irish, and the cor- 
responding terms are often found in local names. 
Preachdn [prehaun] is a generic term, standing 
for any ravenous kind of bird, the various species 
being designated by qualifying terms : standing 
by itself, however, it usually signifies a crow, and as 
such occurs in Ardnapreaghaun in Limerick, Ard- 
na-bpreachan, the hill of the crows; Knockaphreagh- 
aun in Cork, Clare, and Galway, the crow's hill. 

486 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

Feannog [fannoge], signifies a royston or scald 
crow : we find it in Tirfinnog near Monaghan, the 
district of the scald crows; in Carnfunnock in 
Antrim, where there must have been an old 
monumental heap frequented by these birds ; and 
Toberfinnick in Wexford is the scald crows' well. 
Buffanoky in Limerick represents the Irish Both- 
fionnoice, the hut or tent of the royston crow. Yery 
often the /is eclipsed (p. 22), as in Mullanavannog 
in Monaghan, Mullach-na-bhfeannog, the scald 
crows' hill. 

A raven is designated by the woT&fiach [f eeagh], 
which, in anglicised names it is often difficult to 
distinguish from fiadh, a deer,. There is a re- 
markable rock over the Barrow, near Graigue- 
namanagh, called Benaneha, or in Irish Beann-an- 
fheiche, the cliff of the raven ; Lissaneigh in Sligo 
is the raven's fort; Carrickaneagh in Tipperary, 
and Carrickanee in Donegal the raven's rock. The 
genitive plural with an eclipsis (p. 22) is seen in 
Mulnaveagh near LifEord, and Mullynaveagh in 
Tyrone, the hill of the ravens. 

Bran is another word for a raven : it is given 
in Zeuss (Gram. Celt., p. 46) as the equivalent 
of corvus and it is explained fiach in Cormac's 
Glossary. Brankill, the name of some places in 
Cavan, signifies raven wood ; Brannish in Fer- 
managh, a contraction for JBran-mis, raven island ; 
and Rathbranagh near Groom in Limerick, the 
fort of the ravens. 

The seagull. This bird is denoted by the two 
dimunitives,/flet7edwand/<z<2Y<?0# [feelaun, feeloge] ; 
and both are reproduced in modernised names, often 
forming the terminations -naweelaun -naweeloge, 
and-ee/aw. Carrownaweelaun in Clare represents 
the sound of the Irish Ceathramhadh-na-blifaeiledn, 

CHAP, vii.] Animals. 487 

the quarter-land of the sea-gulls ; Loughnaweeloge 
and Loughaunnaweelaun, the names of some lakes 
andtownlands in different counties, signify the 
sea-gulls' lake ; and the same name is reduced to 
Lough Wheelion in King's County : Ardeelan in 
Donegal, the height of the sea-gulls. 

The plover. Feadog [faddoge] , a plover ; derived 
I suppose fromfead, a whistle, from the peculiar 
note uttered by the bird. 'Feadog generally 
occurs in the end of names in the forms -viddoge, 
-vaddoge, -faddock, &c. ; as in Ballynavaddog in 
Meath, and Balf eddock in Louth, the townland of 
the plovers ; Barranafaddock near Lismore, the 
plovers' hill- top ; Moanaviddoge- near Oola in 
Limerick, the bog of the plovers. 

The crane. Corr means any bird of the crane 
kind, the different species being distinguished by 
qualifying terms. Standing alone, however, it is 
always understood to mean a heron generally 
called a crane in Ireland ; and it is used very ex- 
tensively in forming names, especially in marshy 
or lake districts, commonly in the forms cor, gor, 
and gore. Loughanagore near Kilbeggan in 
Westmeath, in Irish Lochan-na-gcorr, signifies the 
little lake of the cranes ; the same as Corlough, 
the name of several lakes and townlands in dif- 
ferent counties. Edenagor in Donegal, Annagoi 
in Meath, and Monagor in Monaghan, signify 
respectively the hill-brow, the ford, and the bog, 
of the cranes ; and the little ros or peninsula that 
juts into Lough Erne at its western extremity, 
must have been a favourite haunt of these birds, 
since it got the name of Rosscor. 

The corncrake. Tradhnach or treanach means a 
corncrake ; it is pronounced tryna in the south and 
west, but traina elsewhere, and anglicised accord- 
ingly. Cloonatreane in Fermanagh signifies the 

488 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

meadow of the corncrakes ; Lugatryna in Wicklow, 
the corncrake's hollow. In the west and north 
west the word is often made tradhlach, as we see 
in Carrowntreila in Mayo, and Carrowntryla in 
Galway and Roscommon, the quarter-land of the 

The goose. The Irish word gedh [gay] a goose, 
has its cognates in many languages : Sanscr. 
hansa; Gr. chen ; Lat. anser ; 0. H. Ger. kans ; 
Ang-Sax. gos and gandra ; Eng. goose and gander. 
It occurs in names almost always in the form gay; 
as in Monagay, a parish in Limerick, which is 
called in Irish Moin-a'-ghedh, the bog of the goose, 
propably from being frequented by flocks of wild 
geese: it is not easy to conjecture what gave 
origin to the singular name, Ballingayrour, i. e., 
Baile-an-ghedh-reamhair, the town of the fat goose, 
which we meet with in the same county, but it 
might have been from the fact, that the place was 
considered a good pasture for fattening geese. 
Gay Island in Fermanagh is not an English name, 
as it looks ; it is a half translation from Inis-na- 
ngddh, i. e., goose island. 

The duck. The word lacha, gen. lachan, a duck, 
is occasionally, though not often, found in names; 
the townland of Loughloughan in the parish of 
Skerry, Antrim, took its name from a little lake 
called Loch-lachan, the lake of the ducks ; and this 
and Loughnaloughan are the names of several 
other lakelets and pools in different parts of the 

In the west of Ireland, the word cadhan [coin] 
is in common use to denote a barnacle goose ; and 
it is a word long in use, for it occurs in old docu- 
ments, such as Cormac's Glossary, &c. We find 
it in Gortnagoyne, i. e., Gort-na-gcadhan, the name 
of a townland in Galway, and of another in Ros- 

CHAP. vii. J Animals. 489 

common ; and there is a lake in the parish of 
Burriscarra, Mayo, called Loughnagoyne these 
two names meaning respectively, the field and the 
lake of the barnacle ducks. 

The cuckoo Irish cuach [coogh]. From the 
great number of places all over the country con- 
taining this word, it is evident that the bird must 
have been a general favourite. The following 
names include all the principal changes in the 
word : Derrycoogh in Tipperary is in Irish Doire- 
cuach, the oak-grove of the cuckoos ; Cloncough 
in Queen's County, the cuckoo's meadow. Tne 
word occurs in the gen. singular in Cloncoohy in 
Fermanagh, the meadow of the cuckoo ; and in 
Drumnacooha in Longford, the cuckoo's ridge. 
It appears in the gen. plural with an eclipsis (p. 22) 
in Knocknagoogh in Tipperary, and Boleynagoagh 
in Q-alway, the hill, and the dairy-place, of the 
cuckoos. And it is still further softened down in 
Clontycoe in Queen's County, and Clontycoo in 
Cavan, the cuckoo's meadows ; and in Ballynacoy 
in Antrim, the town of the cuckoo. 

The woodcock. Creabhar [crour] means a wood- 
cock, and is in general easy to be distinguished in 
names, as it is usually made either -crour or -grour, 
the g taking the place of c in the latter, by eclipsis 
(p. 22) . Lackanagrour near Bruree in Limerick, 
is written in Irish Leaca-na-gcreabhar, the hill- 
side of the woodcocks ; Gortnagrour in Limerick 
(Gort, a field); Coolnagrower in King's County 
and Tipperary, the woodcock's corner. 

The blackbird. The Irish word for a blackbird 
is Ion or londubh, and the former is found, though 
not often, in names. The Four Masters mention 
a place in Tyrone, called Coill-na-lon, the wood of 
the blackbirds ; and this same name occurs in 
Meath in the modernised form, Kilnalun. 

The thrush. Smdl or smolach [smole, smSlagh] 

4DO Physical Features. [PART iv. 

is a thrush. The best known name containing 
the word is Gleann-na-smol, the valley of the 
thrushes, the scene of a celebrated Irish poem, 
which is believed to be the same place as Glenas- 
mole, a fine valley near Tallaght, Dublin, where 
the river Dodder rises. Near Lifford in Donegal, 
is a townland called Q-lensmoil, which represents 
the Irish Gleann-a-smoil, the thrush's glen. 

The skylark. Fuisedg [fwishoge] is a lark. It 
occurs in Rathnafushogue in Carlow, the fort of 
the larks ; in Knocknawhishoge in Sligo, lark- 
hill ; and in Kilnahushoge near Clogher in Tyrone, 
the wood of the larks. 

Birds' nests. The word nead fnad] signifies a 
nest ; in Cormac's Glossary it is given in the old 
Irish form net; Lat., nidus; "Welsh, nyth; Cornish, 
neid; Breton, neiz; Manx, edd. It is of very 
frequent occurrence in names, generally in the 
forms nad, ned, and nid. There are three town- 
lands in Cavan, Fermanagh, and Derry, called 
Ned ; Nedeen, little nest, is the name of the spot 
on which Kenmare stands, and the town itself is 
often called by that name. There are many high 
cliffs in mountainous districts, the resorts of eagles 
in times gone by, which still retain the name of 
Nadanuller, the eagle's nest ; and they have in 
some cases given names to townlands. Nadnaveagh 
in Roscommon, and Nadneagh in King's County, 
signify the first, the nest of the ravens, the 
second, of the raven ; Nadaphreaghane, a hill six 
miles north of Derry, the crow's nest. Athnid, 
the ford of the nest, is a parish in Tipperary ; 
Drumnid is a townland near Mohill in Leitrim ; 
and there is another in the parish of Magherally, 
Down, called Drumneth, both meaning the ridge 
of the nests ; Derrynaned in Mayo, the oak-wood 
of the birds' nests. 

CHAP, vni.] Plants. 49J 



As with the animal world, so it is with the vege- 
table all the principal native species of plants 
are commemorated in local names, from forest 
trees down to the smallest shrubs and grasses : 
and where cultivation has not interfered with the 
course of nature, there are still to be found many 
places, that to this day produce in great abundance 
the very species that gave them names many 
hundreds of years ago. 

Woods. All our histories, both native and 
English, concur in stating that Ireland formerly 
abounded in woods, which covered the country 
down to a comparatively recent period ; and this 
statement is fully borne out by the vast numbers 
of names that are formed from words signifying 
woods and trees of various kinds. According to 
our historians, one of the bardic names of Ireland 
was Inis-na-bhfiodhbhaidh [Inish-na-veevy], woody 
island. If a wood were now to spring up in every 
place bearing a name of this kind, the country 
would become once more clothed with an almost 
uninterrupted succession of forests. 

There are several words in Ireland for a wood, 
the principal of which are coill and fidh. Coill is 
represented by various modern forms, the most 
common being kil and kyle ; and as these also are 
the usual anglicised representatives of till, a church, 
it is often difficult, and not unf requently impossible, 
to distinguish them. Whether the syllables kit 
and kyle mean church or wood, we can ascertain 
only by hearing the names pronounced in Irish 
for the sounds of cill and coill are quite distinct 

492 Physical Features. [PART tv. 

or by finding them written in some Irish docu- 
ment of authority. 

I have already conjectured (p. 314) that about 
a fifth of the kits and kills that begin names are 
woods: the following are a few examples: 
Kilnamanagh, a barony in Tipperary, the ancient 
patrimony of the O'Dwyers, is called by the Four 
Masters, Coitt-na-manach, the wood of the monks. 

The barony of Kilmore near Charleville in Cork, 
whose great forest was celebrated in the wars of 
Elizabeth, is called Coill-mhor, great wood, in the 
annals ; but the vast majority of the Kilmores, of 
which there are about eighty are from Cill-mor, 
great church. O'Meyey, who killed Hugh de 
Lacy at Durrow, fled, according to the Four 
Masters, "to the wood of Coill-an-chlair " (the 
wood of the plain) ; this wood is gone, but it was 
situated near Tullamore, and the place is still 
known by the name of Kilclare. The word Kyle, 
which very often stands for till, in many cases also 
means a wood ; as in Kylemore (lake), great wood, 
near the Twelve Pins in Connemara. 

Coill assumes other forms, however, in which it 
is quite distinguishable from till; as in Barnacullia, 
a hamlet on the eastern face of the Three Rock 
mountain near Dublin, Barr-na-coille, the top of 
the wood ; and this wood is still in existence ; 
Barnakillew in Mayo, and Barnakilly in Derry, 
same meaning; Lisnacullia in Limerick, wood 
fort ; Ballynakillew, the town of the wood. The 
diminutive coilltn gives names to several places, 
now often called either in whole or part, Culleen ; 
Ardakillen in the parish of Killukin, Roscommon, 
is called by the Four Masters, Ard-an-choillm, the 
height of the little wood ; and coilltean [kyle-tawn], 
which is sometimes applied to a growth of under- 
wood, sometimes to a "little wood," is represented 
by Kyletaun near Rathkeale in Limerick. 

CHAP, vi TT.] Plants. 493 

The plural of coitt is coillte [coiltha], wliicli is 
often found in some of the Connaught counties in 
the forms of cuilty, cuiltia, and cultia ; as in 
Cuiltybo in Mayo and Roscommon, the woods of 
the cows. In Clare there are some places called 
Quilty, which is the same word ; and we also find 
Keelty and Keelties, as the names of several town- 
lands. But its most common form is kitty, except 
in Munster, where it is not much used ; this begins 
the names of about forty townlands, chiefly in the 
western and north-western counties, several, how- 
ever, occurring in Longford; Kiltyclogher and 
Kiltyclogh in Leitrim, Longford, and Tyrone, 
signify stony woods ; Kiltybegs in Longford and 
Monaghan, little woods ; Kilty nashinn agh in 
Leitrim, the woods of the shinnaghs or foxes. 
Coillidh [quilly] is a derivative of eoill in common 
use to signify woodland; it is found frequently 
in the form of Cully as, for example, Cullycapple 
in Londonderry, the woodland of the horses ; and 
it is very often made Quilly, which is the name 
of some places in Derry, Waterford, and Down. 

Fidh orfiodh [fih], the other term for wood, is 
found in both the Celtic and Teutonic languages. 
The old Irish form is fid, which glosses arbor in 
Sg. (Zeuss, p. 65) ; and it corresponds with the 
Gaulish vidu, Welsh quid, O. H. German witu, 
Ang.-Saxon vudu, English wood. Its most usual 
modern forms are fee, fi, and.feigh; thus Feebane, 
white wood, near Monaghan ; Feebeg and Fee- 
more (little and great) near Borrisokane ; and it 
is occasionally made foy, but this may be also a 
modern form offaiihche, a play-green (see p. 296). 
At the mouth of the river Fergus in Clare, there 
is an island called Feenish, a name shortened from 
Fidh-inis, woody island ; we find the same name 
in the form of Finish in Galway, while it is made 

494 Physical Feafurrx. [PART iv. 

Finnis in Cork and Down. The parish of Feigh- 
cullen in Kildare is mentioned by the Four Masters, 
who call \i Fiodh-Chuilinn, Cullen's Wood; and 
Fiddown in Kilkenny, they write Fidh-duin, the 
wood of the fortress. 

Sometimes the aspirated d in the end is restored 
(p. 42), as we find in Fethard, a small town in 
Tipperary, which the annalists write Fiodh-ard, 
high wood ; there is also a village in Wexford of 
the same name ; and Feeard in the parish of Kil- 
ballyowen in Clare, exhibits the same compound, 
with the d aspirated. So also in Kilfithmone in 
Tipperary ; the latter part (fithmone) represents 
the ancient Irish name, Fiodh-Mughaine, the wood 
of Mughain (a woman) : Kilfithmone, the church 
of Mugania's wood. 

There are two baronies in Armagh called Fews, 
which are mentioned in the Four Masters at A.D. 
1452, by the name of Feadha [Fa], i. e. woods ; 
which is modernised by the adoption of the Eng- 
lish plural form (p. 32) ; and Fews, the name of 
a parish in Waterford, has the same origin. There 
was a district in Boscommon, west of Athlone, 
which in the annals is also called Feadha; but it 
is now commonly called the Faes (i. e. the woods) 
of Athlone. 

This word has some derivatives which also con- 
tribute to the formation of names. Fiodhach 
[feeagh] signifies a woody place, and all those 
townlands now called Feagh and Feeagh, which 
are found distributed over the four provinces, 
derive their names from it. Fiodhnach [Feenagh] , 
which has exactly the same meaning, was the old 
name of Fenagh in Leitrim (Four Masters) ; 
and though now bare of trees, it was wooded 
so late as the seventeenth century. There are 
several other places called Fenagh and Feenagh, 

CHAP, viii.] Plants. 495 

which have the same original name. Feevagh in 
Roscommon, is called in Irish, Fiodhbhach, which 
also signifies a place covered with wood. 

Ros, as I have already stated, has several mean- 
ings, one of which is a wood ; and in this sense 
we often find it in names, especially in the south. 
There is a place called Rosserk near Killala at the 
mouth of the Moy in Mayo. It is called in Irish 
Ros-Serce (Serce's wood), and we learn from Mac 
Firbis (Hy Fiachrach, p. 51) that "it is so called 
from Searc the daughter of Carbery, son of 
Awley (see p. 139, supra), who blessed the village 
and the wood which is at the mouth of the river 
Moy." The original church founded by the virgin 
saint Searc in the sixth century, has long since 
disappeared ; but the place contains the ruins of 
a beautiful little abbey. Roscrea in Tipperary is 
written in the Book of Leinster, Ros- Ore, Ore's 
wood. Roskeen, the name of several places, re- 
presents the Irish Ros-caein, beautiful wood. 

New Ross in Wexford, notwithstanding its 
name, is an old place ; for Dermot Mac Murrough 
built a city there in the twelfth century, the ruins 
of which yet remain. It is called in the annals 
Ros-mic-Treoin [Rosmicrone], the wood of the 
son of Treun, a man's name ; the people still use 
this name corrupted to Rosemacrone ; and they 
think the town vas so called from a woman named 
Rose Macrone, about whom they tell a nonsensical 
story. St. Coman, from whom was named Ros- 
common (Coman's wood), founded a monastery 
there, and died, according to the Four Masters, in 
746 or 747, but other authorities place him much 
earlier. Ross Carbery in Cork, was formerly a 
place of great ecclesiastical eminence ; and it was 
"so famous for the crowds of students and monks 
flocking to it, that it was distinguished by the 

496 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

name of Ros-ailithir " [allihir : Four Masters], the 
wood of the pilgrims. Rusheen, a diminutiye, 
and the plural Rusheens, are the names of a great 
many townlands in Munster and Connaught ; the 
word is often applied to a growth of small bushy 
trees or underwood, as well as to a wood small in 
extent. The word ros is often written with a 
instead of o, both in old records and in anglicised 
names; as in Rasheen "Wood, near the Dun- 
drum station of the Great Southern and Western 

Fasach [faussagh], a very expressive word, de- 
rived from fas, growth, signifies a wilderness or 
an uncultivated place. It gives names to some 
townlands now called Fasagh and Fassagh ; the 
territory along the river Dinin in Kilkenny, which 
now forms a barony, is called Fassadinin, the 
wilderness of the Dinin : Fassaroe in Wicklow, 
red wilderness. There is a long lane beside Phibs- 
borough in Dublin called Faussagh Lane, i. e., 
wilderness lane. 

Scairt [scart] denotes a cluster of bushes, a 
thicket, a scrubby place. In the form Scart, with 
the diminutive Scarteen, it gives names to numer- 
ous places, but only in the Munster counties and 
Kilkenny. Scartlea, grey thicket, is the name of 
a village in Cork, and of some townlands in Water- 
ford and Kerry ; Scartaglin near Oastleisland, the 
thicket of the glen ; Ballinascarty in the parish of 
Kilmaloda, Cork, the town of the thicket. 

Muine [munny], a brake or shrubbery. It 
occurs frequently in names generally in the form 
of money, which constitutes or begins about 170 
townland names through the four provinces. The 
word is also sometimes applied to a hill, so that 
its signification is occasionally doubtful. It is 
probably to be understood in the former sense in 

P. vru.] Plants. 497 

the name of Monaghan, which is called in Irish 
Muineachdn (Four Mast.), a diminutive of muine, 
signifying little shrubbery. There are three town- 
lands in Down called Moneydorragh, i. e. Muine- 
dorcha, dark shrubbery ; Ballymoney, the town of 
the shrubbery, is the name of many places through 
the country; Magheraculmoney in Fermanagh, 
the plain of the back of the shrubbery ; Monivea 
in Galway is called in Irish authorities, Muine-an- 
mheadha [Money-an-va : Four Mast.], the shrub- 
bery of the mead, very probably because the drink 
was brewed there. 

The compound Liathmhmne [Leewinny], grey 
shrubbery, is often used to form names, and is 
variously modified ; such as we see in LeafEony in 
Sligo, Leafin in Meath, Liafin and Lefinn in Done* 
gal, and Leighmoney in Cork ; Cloghleafin, neal 
Mitchelstown in Cork, the castle of the grey 

Gaertha [gairha] is used in the south to denote 
a woodland along a river, overgrown with small 
trees, bushes, or underwood ; it is almost confined 
to Cork and Kerry, and generally appears in the 
forms of Gearha and Gearagh ; and occasionally 
Geeragh and Gairha. There is a well-known place 
of this kind near Macroom, where a dense growth 
of underwood extends for three or four miles along 
the Lee, and it is universally known by the name 
of Gearha : and the little hamlet of Ballingeary 
on the Lee between Inchigeelagh and the Pass oi 
Keimaneigh, would be more correctly called Bel- 
langeary, for the Gaelic name is Bel-atha-an- 
ghaerthaig, the ford of the river-shrubbery (see 
p. 357). A good bridge now spans the old ford. 
Tourists who have seen Coomidufl: near Killarney, 
will remember the Gearhameen river which flows 
through it into the upper lake oi; Killarney ; the 

VOL. I. i$ 

498 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

postfix meen, Irish min, signifies literally smooth, 
fine, or small, indicating that this gearha was 
composed of a growth of small delicate bushes. 
There is also a Gearhameen west of Bantry in 

Garrdn is a shrubbery. There are a great many 
places in Munster and Connaught called Garran, 
Garrane, and Garraun, all derived from this word. 
It is also found in Leinster, but not often, except 
in Kilkenny ; and it occurs half a dozen times in 
Monaghan, but I have not found it elsewhere in 
Ulster. Garranamanagh, the name of a parish in 
Kilkenny, signifies the shrubbery of the monks ; 
and there is another parish in Cork called Gar- 
ranekinnefeake, the shrubbery of Kinnefeake, a 
family name. Ballingarrane, Ballygarran, Bally - 
garrane, and Ballygarraun, all townland names, 
signify the town of the shrubbery. 

A tree. The common word for a tree is crann, 
and it has retained this form unchanged from the 
earliest ages, for crann occurs in the Zeuss MSS. 
as a gloss on arbor : Welsh pren ; Armoric prenn. 
This word forms part of the names of many places, 
in every one of which there must have once stood 
a remarkable tree, and for a time sufficiently long 
to impress the name. 

In the nominative, it generally takes the forms 
Crann and Cran, which are the names of townlands 
in Armagh, Cavan, and Fermanagh, and consti- 
tute the beginning of many names ; such as Cran- 
daniel in Waterford, Daniel's tree ; Crancam in 
Roscommon and Longford, crooked tree ; Cran- 
lonie in Tyrone, bare tree ; Cranacrower in Wex- 
ford, the woodcocks' tree. 

The genitive case, crainn, is usually pronounced 
crin or creen, and the form is modified accordingly 
when it occurs as a termination ; Crossmacrin in 

CHAT. vm.~l Plants. 499 

Galway is written in Ir-Un, Cross-maighe-crainn, 
the cross of the plain of the tree. Drominacreen 
in Limerick, the little hill of the tree ; Corcrain 
in Armagh (Cor, a round-hill) ; and Carrowcrin, 
the name of several places, the quarter-land of the 
tree. With the c eclipsed, the termination is 
usually -nagran, as in Ballynagran, a common 
townland name, Baile-na-gcrann y the town of the 
trees. The ad jective crannach signifies arboreous 
a place full of trees ; and from this a great many 
townlands and rivers, now called Crannagh, have 
received their names. 

Bile [bill a] signifies a large tree ; it seems con- 
nected with Sansc. bala, a leaf, the more so as 
bileog, the diminutive of the Irish word, also de- 
notes a leaf. Bile was generally applied to a large 
tree, which, for any reason, was held in veneration 
by the people ; for instance, one under which their 
chiefs used to be inaugurated, or periodical games 

Trees of this kind were regarded with intense 
reverence and affection ; one of the greatest 
triumphs that a tribe could achieve over their 
enemies, was to cut down their inauguration tree, 
and no outrage was more keenly resented, or when 
possible, visited with sharper retribution. Our 
annals often record their destruction as events of 
importance ; at 981 for example, we read in the 
Four Masters, that the bile of Magh-adhar [Mah- 
ire] in Clare, the great tree under which the 
O'Briens were inaugurated was rooted out of the 
earth, and cut up, by Malachy, king of Ireland ; 
and at 1111, that the Ulidians led an army to 
Tullahogue, the inauguration-place of the O'Neills , 
and cut down the old trees; for which Niall 
O'Loughlin afterwards exacted a retribution of 
3,000 cows. 

500 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

These trees were pretty common in past times ; 
some of them remain to this day, and are often 
called Bell trees, or Bellow trees, an echo of the 
old word bile. In most cases, however, they have 
long since disappeared, but their names remain on 
many places to attest their former existence. The 
word bile would be correctly anglicised billa, as we 
find it in Lisnabilla in Antrim, the fort of the 
ancient tree. 

As a termination it assumes several forms ; and 
it is in some places used in the masculine, and in 
others in the feminine (see aiteann, furze) . It is very 
often made -villa, in which case it is likely to be 
mistaken for the English word villa. The well- 
known song " Lovely Kate of Garnavilla," will be 
in the recollection of many people. The home of 
the celebrated beauty lies near the town of Caher 
in Tipperary, and its Irish name is Garran-a'- 
bhile, the shrubbery of the ancient tree. Gortavella 
and Gortavilly are the names of two townlands in 
Cork and Tyrone (Gort, a field) ; Knockavilla in 
several counties (knock, a hill) ; and there are 
many places called Aghavilla, Aghaville, and 
AghavQly, the field (achadJi) of the old tree. At 
Rathvilly in Carlo w, one of these trees must have, 
at some former time, flourished on or near an 
ancient fort, for it is written by the annalists 
Rath-bile; and in the King's County there is a 
place of the same name, but spelled Rathvilla. 

In some parts of Ireland, especially in the 
south, the word is pronounced bella, as if spelled 
beile, and this form is perpetuated in the names of 
many places, for instance, Bellia, a village in 
Clare, and Bellew in Meath ; Ballinvella in 
Waterford, the town of the old tree, the same as 
Ballinvilla, the name of places in various counties. 
Near the entrance to Cork harbour there is a small 

CHAP, vin.] Plants. 501 

peninsula called Ringabella, the rfnn or point of 
the ancient tree, which has given name to the 
little bay near it. 

Craebh [crave] signifies either a branch or a 
large wide- spreading tree. The name, like bile. 
was given to large trees, under whose shadows 
games or religious rites were celebrated, or chiefs 
inaugurated ; and we may conclude that one of 
these trees formerly grew wherever we find the 
word perpetuated in a name. Creeve, the most 
usual modern form, is the name of a great many 
places. In several cases, the bh is represented by 
w, changing the word to Crew, which is the name 
of ten or twelve places in the northern counties. 
Crewhill in Kildare, is merely the phonetic re- 
presentation of Craebh-choill, branchy-wood, or a 
wood of branchy trees ; Loughcrew, a small lake 
in Meath, giving name to a parish, is called in 
Irish, Loch-craeibhe, the lake of the branchy tree ; 
and the village of Mullacrew in Louth is Mullach- 
craeibhe, the hill of the tree. There are more than 
thirty townlands called Creevagh, i. e. branchy or 
bushy land. The name of the parish of Cruagh 
at the base of the moutains south of Dublin city, 
has the same original form, for we find it written 
" Creuaghe " and " Crevaghe " in several old 
documents ; and Creevy, which is a modification 
of the same word, is the name of about twenty 
others : in Monaghan and Tyrone we find some 
places called Derrycreevy, which signifies branchy 
derry or oak-wood. Near the town of Antrim, is 
a townland called Creevery, and another in 
Donegal called Crevary ; both of which are from 
the Irish Craebhaire, a branchy place. 

The oak. We know as a historical fact that 
this country formerly abounded in forests of oak, 
and that for manv ages the timber continued to be 

502 Physical Features. [PART iv 

exported to England ; it appears to have been the 
most plentiful of all Irish trees ; and we find it 
commemorated in local names to a greater extent 
than any ether vegetable production. 

Dair [dar] the common Irish word for oak, is 
found in many of the Indo-European languages ; 
the Sansc. dm is a tree in general, which is 
probably the primary meaning, whence it came to 
signify " oak," which is the meaning of the Greek 
drus ; Welsh dar ; and Armoric derd. 

The old Irish form of the word, as found in 
the Zeuss MSS., is daur, and this is preserved 
nearly in its purity in the name of the Daar, a 
little river flowing by Newcastle in Limerick, 
which the people call Ahhainn-na-ddrach, the river 
of the oak. There is a place near Foynes in the 
Shannon, called Burnish ; Dernish is the name of 
three islands in Clare, Fermanagh, and Sligo ; 
and we have also Derinch and Derinish ; all of 
which are from Dair-inis, as we find it written in 
" "Wars of GG.," signifying oak-island. 

The genitive of d-air is darach or dara, which is 
very common in the end of names, in the forms of 
-daragh, -dara, and -dare. Adare in Limerick is 
always called in Irish documents, Ath-dara, the 
ford of the oak-tree, a name which shows that a 
great oak must have for many generations shaded 
the ford which in ancient times crossed the 
Maigue. There is a place of the same Irish name 
near Dromore in Tyrone, but now called Agha- 
darragh ; and we have Clondarragh in Wexford, 
the meadow of the oak ; Lisnadarragh, the fort of 
the oak. Darach, an adjective formation, signifies 
a place full of oaks; the ancient form is daurauch, 
which in the Zeuss MSS., glosses quercetum, i. e 
an oak-grove. It gives name to Darragh, a parish 
in the south-east of Limerick, where oaks stil] 

CHAP. VITT.] Plants. 503 

grow ; to Derragh in Cork, Longford, and Mayo ; 
and there are places of the same name in Down 
and Clare. 

Doire or daire [derry] is an oak-wood, and is 
almost always represented in anglicised names by 
derry or derri. Derrylahan, a very usual name, 
signifies broad oak-wood ; the wood still remains 
on the side of a hill at Glendalough in Wicklow, 
that gave it the name of Derrybawn (ban, whitish), 
and this is also the name of other places ; Derry- 
keighan, a parish in Antrim, is called in Irish, 
Doire- Chaechain (Four Mast.), Caechan's, or Kee- 
ghan's grove. When doire is joined with the gen. 
mas. of the article, it becomes in English derrin, 
which begins many names. Thus Derrinlaur, a 
townland in which are the ruins of a castle, in 
Waterford, not far from Clonmel, is mentioned by 
the Four Masters, who write the name Doire-an- 
lair, middle derry. And sometimes it is contracted 
to der, as in Dernagree in Cork, the same as 
Derrynagree in other places, the wood of the 
cattle ; Derradd in Westmeath, and Derrada in 
the Connaught counties, which are the same as 
Derryadd in the middle and north of Ireland, 
Derryadda in Mayo, and Derryfadda in the south 
and west all from Doire-fhada, long oak-wood, 
the/ being aspirated and omitted in some (see p. 

The most ancient name of Londonderry, ac- 
cording to all our authorities, was Daire-Calgaich 
[Derry-Calgagh] ; Adamnan, in one place uses 
this name, and elsewhere he translates it Iloboretum- 
Calgachi, the oak-wood of Calgach. Calgach was 
a man's name common among the ancient Irish, 
signifying " fierce warrior " (still in use as a sur- 
name in the form of Calligy) ; and in the Latinised 
form of Galgacus, readers of Tacitus will recognise 

50-1 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

it, as the name of the hero who led the Caledonians 
at the battle of the Grampians. 

Daire-Calgaich was the old pagan name, used for 
ages before St. Columba erected his monastery 
there in 546 ; it was retained till the tenth or 
eleventh century, when the name Derry-Columkille 
began to prevail, in memory of its great patron, 
and continued down till the time of James I., 
whose charter, granted to a company of London 
merchants, imposed the name " Londonderry." 

We have several interesting notices of the 
derry, or oak-wood, that gave name to this place ; 
we find it in existence more than 600 years after 
the time of St. Columba ; for the Four Masters, 
at 1178, record : " A violent wind-storm occurred 
this year ; it caused a great destruction of trees. 
It prostrated oaks. It prostrated one hundred 
and twenty trees in Derry-Columkille." 

The word doire is one of the most prolific roots 
in Irish names ; and if we recollect that wherever 
it occurs an oak-wood once flourished, we shall 
have a good idea of the great abundance of this 
tree in past ages. Over 1,300 names begin with the- 
word in its various forms, and there are innumer- 
able places whose names contain it as a termination. 
Derreen, little oak-wood, is also of very frequent 
occurrence, chiefly in Munster and Connaught, 
and occasionally in Leinster and Ulster ; Derreena- 
taggart in Cork, the little oak-grove of the sagart 
or priest. We have at least one example of the 
diminutive in an in Derrane in Roscommon, which 
is mentioned by the Four Masters under the name 
of Doiredn. 

There is yet another derivative of dair in pretty 
common use, namely, dairbhre, which is now 
universally pronounced darrery, the aspirated b 
being wholly sunk. .According to O'Reilly, it 

CHAP. VITT.] Plants. 505 

sometimes means an oak ; but it is generally used 
to signify an oak-forest, or a place abounding in 
oaks. Valentia island is well known in our an- 
cient literature by the name of Dairbhre, as the 
principality of the great druid Mogh-Ru-th, who 
played so important a part at the siege of Knock- 
long (see p. 102). The island is now always 
called Darrery in Irish, by the people of Munster 
a conclusive proof that the word darrery in the 
modern language, is identical with the ancient 

There are two townlands in Galway, one in 
Cork, and one in Limerick, called Darrery ; we 
find Darraragh in Mayo, and Darrary in Cork and 
Galway ; Dorrery occurs near Carrick-on-Shannon; 
and this same form is preserved in Kildorrery, the 
church of the oaks, a village in the north of the 
county Cork, where the ruins of an old church are 
still to be seen ; written Kill-darire in the Registry 
of Clonmacnoise. Carrigdarrery in the parish of 
Kilmurry in Cork, the rock of the oaks. We 
have one notable example of the preservation of the 
full ancient pronunciation in Lough Derravaragh 
in Westmeath, whose Irish name, as used in the 
annals is Loch Dairbhreach, the lake of the oaks. 

Rail or rdl [rawl] is another term for an oak, 
which we find used in the best authorities ; and it 
often occurs in names, but nearly always in the 
genitive form, ralach [rawlagh]. Drumralla near 
Newtown Butler in Fermanagh is written by the 
Four Masters, Druim-ralach, the ridge of the oak. 
There is a place in Queen's County called Ball in < 
rally, the town of the oak ; another near Athlone, 
called Cloonrollagh (meadow) ; and a third in 
Cork, called Ardraly (height). Ralaghan, the 
name of some townlands in Cavan and Monaghan ; 
and Rallagh near Banagher in Derry, both signify 
a place of oaks. 

506 Physical Feature*. [FATIT iv s 

There is yet another word for an oak, namely, 
omna ; it occurs in Cormac's Glossary and in the 
Book of Armagh, but it is less used in names than 
the others : and as it is not liable to corruption, it 
is plainly discernible when it occurs. It forms 
part of the name of Portumna, a little town on 
the Galway side of the Shannon, which the Four 
Masters write Port-omna, the port or landing place 
of the oak ; it is also seen in Gortnahomna near 
Castlemartyr in Cork, the field of the oak ; and in 
Drumumna in Clare, oak-ridge. 

The ash. In the south and west of Ireland 
there are three names for the common ash all 
modifications of the same original, viz., fuinnse, 
fuinnseann, and fuinnseog [funsha, funshan, fun- 
shoge] ; the last, which is the most modern, is 
almost universally used, and the others are nearly 
forgotten. In the north the f is omitted (see p. 
27), and the word always employed is uinnseann 

The name of the river Funshion in Cork the 
ash-producing river preserves one of the old 
forms ; and we find it also in Funshin and Fun- 
shinagh, the names of several places in Connaught; 
while the northern form appears in Unshinagh 
and Inshinagh, which are common townland 
names : all these mean land abounding in ash- 
trees. Funchoge, which has the same significa- 
tion, occurs in Wexford, and we find this form as 
far north as Louth ; while without the /, it be- 
comes TJnshog in the parish of Tynan, Armagh, 
and Hinchoge near Raheny in Dublin. 

The birch. Berth [beh], the birch- tree; cognate 

with the first syllable of the Latin betula, which 

is a diminutive. Great numbers of places have 

received their names from this tree : and some of 

he most common derivatives are Beagh, Behagh, 

CHAP. VTTI.] Plants. 507 

Bahagh, Behy, and Beaghy ; which are all modi- 
fications of Beitheach and Beithigh, birch, land, 
and are found in every part of Ireland. "We find 
several other places called Bahana, Behanagh, 
Beheenagh, and Behernagh all meaning a place 
abounding in birch. The village of Kilbeheny in 
Tipperary, near Mitchelstown, is called in the 
Four Masters, Coill-beithne, birch- wood ; and this 
interpretation is corroborated by the fact, that the 
place is situated at the point where the little river 
Behanagh (birch-producing river) joins the Fun- 

In the end of names, the word takes various 
forms, the most common of which is behy ; as we 
find in Ballaghbehy in Limerick, and Ballaghna- 
behy in Leitrim, the birchy road. Other forms 
are seen in the following: the Irish name of 
Ballybay in Monaghan, is Bel-atha-beithe [Bella- 
behy] , the ford- mouth of the birch ; and they still 
show the ford, on which a few birches grow, or 
grew until recently, that gave name to the town. 
Aghavea in Fermanagh is always called in the 
annals, Achadh-beithe (Four Masters), birch-field, 
the same name as Aghaveagh in Donegal and 
Tyrone. Coolavehy near Ballyorgan in Limerick, 
the corner of the birch ; Kilbaha in Kerry and 
Clare, birch- wood. 

The elm. This tree is denoted by kamh [lav], 
which has relatives in several other languages, 
such as Latin ulmus, Ang-Sax. ellm, Eng. elm, &c. 
The simple Irish form is hardly ever heard in the 
present spoken language, the diminutive leamhan 
[lavaun] being used in the south, and sleamhan 
[slavan] in the north. These words enter largely 
into names, and are subject to some curious trans- 
formations; but the most general recognisable 
forms are levan, kevan, and Zevaun, which are 

508 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

generally terminations, and signify abounding in 

In the parish of Inishmacsaint in Fermanagh, 
there is a place called Glenlevan, elm glen ; Bally- 
levin, the town of elms, in King's County and 
Donegal ; Lislevane, elm fort, in the parish of 
Abbeymahon, Cork ; Drumleevan in Leitrim, 
and Dromalivaun near Tarbert in Kerry, elm 
ridge. The form with an initial s is often 
found in the northern counties ; as in Carrick- 
slavan in Leitrim, the rock of the elms ; Mullant- 
lavin in the parish of Magheracloone, Monaghan, 
elm hill, the s being eclipsed Mur-an-tsleamhain 
(see p. 23). 

The river Laune, flowing from the lower lake 
of Killarney, is called Leamhain in the Irish an- 
nals, i. e. the elm river ; and this is its Irish name 
at the present day, for the nasal sound of the 
aspirated m is distinctly heard in the pronuncia- 
tion. Leamhain [Lavin] is also the original 
name of the river Leven in Scotland, for so we 
find it written in Irish documents, such as th.e 
Irish version of Nennius, &c. ; and the river has 
given name to the territory of Lennox, which is 
merely a modern corruption of its old name 
Leamhna (Reeves' Adamnan, p. 379). 

As a termination, the simple form leamh is seen 
in Drumlamph, elm ridge, near Maghera in Derry. 
There is a derivative term, leamhraidhe [lavree], 
signifying a place of elms, which is anglicised 
Lowery in Fermanagh and Donegal, and which 
also gives name to Mullanalamphry, a townland 
near Donegal town, the little hill of the elms : the 
Lowerymore river traverses the Gap of Barnes- 
more in Donegal. Lavagh, the English form of 
Learn hack, a place of elms, is the name of some 
townlands in the midland and western counties. 

CHAP, viii.] Plants. 509 

The oblique form Lcamhaidh [Lavy : see p. 33J, is 
very correctly anglicised Lavey, the name of a 
parish in Cavan ; and with the aspirated m restored 
(see p. 43), we see the same word in Lammy, the 
name of some townlands in Tyrone and Fer- 

An elm wood was called Leamhchoitt [lavwhill] 
and this compound, subject to various alterations, 
exists at the present day, showing where these 
woods formerly flourished. The usual anglicised 
forms are Laughil, Laghil, Laghile, Loghill, and 
Loughill the names of many places in the middle, 
south, and west of Ireland ; Cloonlaughil in 
Leitrim and Sligo, the meadow of the elm. wood 
But the most curious transformation is Longfield 
(for which see p. 39) ; in Tyrone, near Lough 
Neagh, occurs a kind of metamorphic form in 
Magheralamfield the plain of the elm wood. 

The yew. Of all European trees the yew is be- 
lieved to attain the greatest age ; there are several 
individual yews in England which are undoubtedly 
as old as the Christian era, and some are believed 
to be much older. We have some very old yews 
in Ireland also ; one, for instance, at Clontarf , has 
probably reached the age of six or seven hundred 
years; and at the ruined castle of Aughnanure 
Afield of the yews) near Oughterard in Galway, 
there is yet to be seen one venerable solitary yew, 
the sole survivor of these that gave name to the 
place, which cannot be less than 1,000 years old. 

We have two words for the yew-tree, evidently 
of the same origin, and both very common in 
names, viz., eo [o or yo] and iubhar [oor or yure]. 
E6 is common to the Celtic, Teutonic, and Clas- 
sical languages: Low Lat. ivus, Fr. if, Welsh 
yw, Arm. iwn ; Ang.-Sax. w, Eng. yew. " As the 
yew is distinguished by its remarkable longevity, 

510 Physical Features. [PART TV. 

one may conjecture a connection of the O. H. 
German iwa with ewa eternity, Gr. aidn, Lat. 
cevuniy Goth aivs" [Eng. age and ever~\ (Pictet, 
" Origines"). Cormac mac Cullenan made the 
same observation a thousand years ago in his 
Glossary, when he derived iubhar from eo, ever, 
and barr, top, " because it never loses its top, i. e. 
it is ever-green." 

In the seventh century, St. Colman, an Irish 
monk, having retired from the see of Lindisfarne, 
returned to his native country, and erected a 
monastery at a place called Magh-eo or Mageo 
(Bede), the plain of the yews, in which he settled 
a number of English monks whom he had brough t 
over with him. For many ages afterwards, this 
monastery was constantly resorted to by monks 
from Britain, and hence it is generally called in 
the annals Magheo-na-Saxan, i. e. Mayo of the 
Saxons. The ruins of the old abbey still remain 
at the village ; and from this place the county 
Mayo derives its name. Mayo is also the name of 
several other places, and in all cases it has the 
same signification. There is a parish in Clare, 
taking its name from an old church, called in the 
annals Magh-neo, now Moynoe, which is the same 
name as Mayo, only with the addition of the n of 
the old genitive plural. The word eo is very often 
represented by o or oe as a termination, as in Killoe 
in Longford, Cill-eo (O'Cl. Gal.), the church of the 
yews : Gleno and Glenoe, yew-glen. 

The compound eochaill [ohill], signifying yew- 
wood, in various modern forms gives names to a 
great many places. The best known is Youghal 
at the mouth of the Blackwater (Eochaill : Four 
Mast.), which was so called from an ancient yew- 
wood that grew on the hill slope where the town 
now stands ; and even yet some of the old yews 

CHAP VM i.] Plants. 511 

remain there. On the strand beside the town 
there is an ancient bog now covered by the sea, 
but exposed at neap tides : and it is an interesting 
fact that the roots and other parts of trees found 
in this bog are nearly all yew. 

The term eochaill is more common, however, in 
the form Oghill, which is the name of about 
twenty townlands in various counties. It occurs 
in Tipperary as Aughall, and in Derry as Aughil ; 
the plural forms, Oghilly, Oghly, and Aghilly 
(yew- woods), are found in Gralway and Do- 
negal ; and the English plural, Aughils and 
Aghills, in Kerry and Cork. Donohill in Tipper- 
ary, the fortress of the yew- wood ; the parish of 
Cloonoghill in Sligo is called in " Hy Fiachrach " 
Cluain-eochaille the meadow of the yew-wood ; and 
there is another place of the same name in Ros- 
common ; while the form Clonoghill is found in 
King's and Queen's Counties. 

The other term, iubhar, is the word now used 
in the spoken language, and it is still more com- 
mon in local nomenclature than eo. As a termina- 
tion it occurs in the form of -ure, or with the 
article -nure, in great numbers of names all over 
the country. Terenure is a place near Dublin 
whose name signifies the land of the yew (Tir-an- 
iubhair], and the demesne contains, or contained 
until lately, some very large yew-trees. The 
village now a suburb of Dublin that was built 
on this townland, was called from its shape, 
Roundtown ; but the good taste of the present 
proprietor has restored the old name Terenure, and 
" Roundtown " is now fast falling into disuse. 
Ballynure and Ballinure, the name of a great 
many places, yew- town ; Ahanure, the ford of the 
yew: Ardnanure, height of the yews. In the 
parish of Killelagh, Londonderry, there is a town- 

512 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

land called Gortinure, which the Four Masters 
call Gort-an-iubkair, the field of the yew ; and this 
is also the name of several other townlands. 
There are many old churches giving names to 
townlands and parishes, called Killure and Kill- 
anure, the church of the yew, no doubt from the 
common practice of planting yew-trees near 
churches. The townland and parish of Uregare 
in Limerick, must have received the name from 
some remarkable yew-tree, for the name is lubhar- 
ghearr [Yure-yar], short yew. 

Newry, in Down, was anciently called lubhar- 
cinntragha [ Yure-kintraw], the yew-tree at the head 
of the strand, of which the oldest form is found in 
the Leabhar-na-hUidhre, viz., Ibur-cind-trachta. 
It appears by a curious entry in the Four Masters 
to have derived its name from a tree planted 
by St. Patrick, and which continued to flourish 
for 700 years after him: "A.D. 1162. The 
monastery of the monks at lubhar-cinn-tragha 
was burned, with all its furniture and books, and 
also the yew which St. Patrick himself had 
planted." The tree must have been situated hear 
the highest point to which the tide rises, for this 
is what the word ceann-tragha, strand- head denotes. 
In after ages, the full name was shortened to 
lubhar, which by prefixing the article (p. 23), and 
making some other alterations, was reduced to the 
present name. It is interesting to observe that on 
the ancient seal of the Lordship of Newry there 
is a mitred abbot seated in a chair, with two yew- 
trees, standing one on each side of him. 

We have also other places called Newry; and the 
shortened form, Nure, is the name of several town- 
lands. Uragh, a place abounding in yews, is 
sometimes met with, and the same name, by the 
attraction of the article (p. 23), becomes Newragh, 

CHAP, viii.] Plants. 

which in many cases, especially in the Leinster 
counties, is corrupted into Newrath. 

The quicken-tree. Caerthainn [keeran or caur- 
han], is the Irish word for the quicken-tree, 
mountain ash, or rowan-tree. It enters into names 
very often in the form of Keeran, which is the 
name of several townlands ; but it undergoes many 
other modifications, such as Keerhan in Louth ; 
Carhan in Kerry, as in case of the river Carhan 
(quicken-tree river) at Cahersiveen; Kerane and 
Keraun inTipperary and King's County : all these 
places must have produced this tree in abundance, 
for the names mean simply mountain ash. Drum- 
keeran, the ridge of the quicken- tree, is the name of 
a village in Leitrim, of a parish in Fermanagh, and 
of several townlands in the northern counties. 

The holly. This tree is denoted by Cuillion 
[cullion], which, as a root word, is. very widely 
diffused over the country, and is in general very 
easily recognised. There are fifteen townlands, 
all in the Ulster counties, called Cullion, 
signifying holly or holly-laud ; another form. 
Cullen, is the name of some townlands ; but Cullen 
parish in Cork has a different origin. Cullen in 
Tipperary is called by the Four Masters, Cuilkann- 
0-gCuanach [0-goonagh], from the old territory 
of Coonagh, to which it must have formerly 
belonged. This word enters into numerous com- 
pounds, but generally in the form cullen ; as ii; 
Drumcullen in King's County, Druim-cmllinn 
(Four Mast.), holly ridge ; Moycullen in Galway, 
the plain of holly ; Knockacullen, holly hill. Many 
have believed that Slieve Gullion in Armagh took 
its name from the great artificer Culann, who had 
his forge on it (see 2nd Vol., c. viii.). But if thit- 
were the case, the ancient name should be written 
Sliabh- Culainn ; whereas we know that in the 


514 Physical Features. [PART iv 

oldest and best authorities, it is Sliabh-Cuillinn, 
which admits of only one interpretation, the moun- 
tain of holly. There are two derivatives of this 
word, Cullenagh and Cullentragh, Cullentra or 
Cullendra, which give names to about sixty town- 
lands and villages ; the former is more usual in the 
south, and the latter in the north ; and both were 
originally applied to a place abounding in holly. 

The hazel. This tree was formerly held in 
great estimation in Ireland : we are told that 
Mac Cuill (literally "son of the hazel"), one of 
the three last kings of the Dedannans, was so 
called because he worshipped the hazel. When 
the old writers record, as they frequently do, 
that the country prospered under the benign rule 
of a good king, they usually state, as one of the 
indications of plenty, that the hazels bended with 
abundance of nuts ; and the salmon that ate 
the nuts which fell from the nine hazel-trees 
growing round certain great river fountains, 
became a "salmon of knowledge;" for whoever 
took and ate one of these fish, became imme- 
diately inspired with the spirit of poetry. 

Coll is the Irish word for a hazel, correspond- 
ing with Lat. corylus. It is often difficult to 
distinguish the modern forms of this word from 
those of several others ; in the beginning of 
names it is usually represented by coll, col, cole, cull, 
and cul, but some of these syllables are often of 
doubtful signification. Cullane and Cullaun are 
the names of some townlands in Kilkenny and 
the Munster counties ; Cullan occurs in Mayo ; 
and Collon is a village and parish in Louth : all 
these signify a place where hazels grow. The 
name of the celebrated Slieve Callan in Clare has 
the same signification; for it is written Collun 
in the old authorities. Colkhoill [culhill], hazel- 

CHAP, viii. j Plants. 515 

wood, like leamh-choitt (p. 509) is subject to con- 
siderable variations of form : as Cullahill, we find 
it in Tipper ary and Queen's County ; Colehill in 
Donegal, King's County, Longford, and Meath; 
and Callowhill in Fermanagh, Leitrim, Monagh- 
an and Wicklow. 

As a termination, the word coll takes the dif- 
ferent forms, -kyle, quill, and coyle, all representing 
the genitive, cuill; Barnakyle near Mungret in 
Limerick, and Barnacoyle in Wicklow, hazel-gap ; 
Monaquill in Tipperary, Carnquill in Monaghan, 
and Lisaquill in Longford and Monaghan, the 
bog, the earn, and the fort of the hazel. 

The alder. This tree is called fearn [farn] in 
Irish ; but in the present spoken language the 
diminutive fearnog (farnoge) is always used. The 
syllables farn and fern, which are found in names 
in every part of Ireland, indicate the prevalence 
of this tree : thus we have several places called 
Farnagh, Fernagh, and Ferney, denoting a place 
producing alders ; and Farnane and Farnoge are 
used in the same sense. Ferns in Wexford is 
well known in ecclesiastical and other records by 
the name of Fearna, i. e. alders or a place 
abounding in alders. Glenfarne, a beautiful 
valley near Manorhamilton, is called by the Four 
Masters Gleann-fearna, the alder glen. When 
the/ is eclipsed (p. 22), the terminations, -navarn, 
-navern, -navarna, &c., are formed : Gortnavern 
in Donegal and Gortnavarnoge in Tipperary, 
alder field; Lecknavarna in Galway, the flag- 
stone of the alders. 

The celebrated territory of Farney in Monaghan 
is called Fearnmhagh [Farnvah] in the Book 
of Rights and other Irish documents, which was 
softened down to the present form by the aspira- 
tion of the m and g. This name signifies alder- 

516 Physical Features. [PART rv. 

plain ; and even so late as the seventeenth cen- 
tury, the alder-woods remained in considerable 
abundance (see Mr. E. P. Shirley's account of the 
barony of Farney, page 1). 

The apple-tree. Abhall or ubhall signifies both 
an apple and an apple tree : pronounced owl or 
ool, and sometimes avel. The ancient Irish form, 
as found in the Zeuss MSS., is aball, which cor- 
responds with the Ang.-Sax. appel, Eng. apple. 

This word enters largely into local names, and 
very often assumes the forms owl, ool, oivle, &c. 
Aghowle in Wicklow is called in Irish documents 
Achadh-abhla, the field of the apple-trees ; the 
same name is found in Fermanagh, in the slightly 
different form Aghyowle ; and in Leitrim Aghy- 
owla. Ballyhooly on the Blackwater, below 
Mallow, is called in the Book of Lismore, Ath- 
ubhla [Ahoola], the ford of the apples; and the 
present name was formed by prefixing Bally : 
Baila-atha-ubhla (now pronounced Elaa-hoola), 
the town of the apple-ford. 

In many places, and especially in some parts of 
the north, the word abhall is used in the sense of 
"orchard;" as, for instance, in Avalreagh in 
Monaghan, grey orchard ; Annahavil in London- 
derry and Tyrone, the marsh of the orchard. 
Very much the same meaning has Oola on the 
Limerick and Waterford railway, which preserves 
exactly the sound of the Irish name, Ubhla, i. e. 
apple-trees, or a place of apples. 

The proper and usual word for an orchard, 
however, is abhalghort [oulart], literally apple- 
garden, which is of pretty frequent occurrence, 
subject to some variations of spelling. The most 
common form is Oulart, the name of several 
places in Wexford ; Ballinoulart in Wexford and 
King's County, and Ballywhollart in Down, both 

CHAP, viii.] Plants. 517 

signify the town of the orchard. Another form 
appears in Knockullard in Carlow, orchard- hill ; 
but Ullard in Kilkenny has a different origin. 

The elder-tree. The elder or boortree is called 
tromm or trom, gen. truim [trim]. The best 
known place named from this tree is Trim in 
Meath, which was so called from the elder-trees 
that grew near the old ford across the Boyne : 
it is called in the Book of Armagh Vadum- Truimm, 
a half translation of its Irish name, Ath-Truim- 
the ford of the boortrees, of which only the lattei 
part has been retained. We have numerous 
names terminating in -trim and -trime, which 
always represent the genitive of trom; Galtrim 
in Meath, once a place of some importance, is 
called in the annals, Cala-truim, the callow or 
holm of the elder ; Gortvunatrime near Emly in 
Tipperary, the gort or field of the bottom-land 
(bun) of the elder. The old name of the moun- 
tain now called Bessy Bell, near Newtownstewart. 
was Sliabh-truim (Four M.), the mountain of the 

A place where elders grow is often called 
tromaire [trummera], from which Trummery in 
Antrim derives its name; it is shortened to 
Trummer, as the name of a little island in the 
Clare part of the Shannon ; and in Wexford it 
takes the form of Trimmer. Tromdn, a diminu- 
tive of tromm, meaning either the elder-tree or a 
place producing elder, has given name to Tromaun 
in Roscommon, to Tromman in Meath, and to 
Trainman in Donegal. 

The black-thorn. Draeighean [dreean] is the 
black-thorn or sloe-bush; the old Irish form as 
given in Cormac's Glossary is droigen; Welsh 
draen; Cornish drain. The simple word give? 
names to several places in Antrim, Derry, and 

518 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

Tyrone, now called Dreen, Drain, and Drains, 
i. e. black -thorn. Drinan near Kinsaley in Dublin 
is called Draighnen by the Four Masters, i. e. a 
place producing black-thorns. This diminutive 
form is much more common than the primitive, 
and in most parts of Ireland the sloe-bush is 
called drinan, or drinan-donn (brown). It gives 
names to various places now called Dreenan, 
Drinane, and Drinaun. The adjective form, 
draeighneach, and its diminutive, draeighneachdn, 
are also very common as townland names, in the 
modern forms, Dreenagh, Drinagh, Driny, and 
Drinaghan, signifying a place abounding in sloe- 
bushes. Aghadreenagh, Aghadreenan, Aghadrin- 
agh, and Aghadreen, are the names of townlands 
in various counties, all meaning the field of the 

The sloe is designated by the Irish word airne 
[arny], which is found pretty often in the end of 
names, in the form of -arney. For the original 
name of Killarney in Kerry, we have not, as far 
as I am aware, any written authority ; but I see 
no reason to question the opinion already advanced 
by others, that the Irish name is Cill-airneadh, 
the church of the sloes. This opinion is corrobo- 
rated by the frequency of the same termination : 
thus we have a Killarney in Kilkenny, another in 
Roscommon, and a third near Bray in Wicklow. 
Near Clones, there is a townland called Magher- 
arny, the plain of the sloes; Clonarney in 
Westmeath and Cavan, sloe-meadow ; Mullarney 
in Kildare, the summit of the sloes, &c. 

The white-tJiorn or haw-tree Irish, sceach 
[skagh]. From these thorn-bushes, so plentifully 
diffused over the whole country, a vast number of 
places have received their names. There are nu- 
merous townlands called Skagh, Skea, and Skeagh, 

CHAP, viii.] Plants. 519 

i. e. simply a thorn-bush ; and these, along with 
the shorter form, Ske, begin the names of many 
others, such as Skeaghanore in Cork, the bush of 
the gold, and Skenarget in Tyrone, of the silver, 
both probably so called because the bushes marked 
the spots where the peasantry dreamed of, and 
dug for money. 

As a termination, the word takes these same 
forms, in addition to several others, such as -ske, 
-skeha, -skehy, &c. ; as in Gortnaskeagh, Gort- 
naskehy, and Gortnaskey, all of which are the 
names of townlands, and signify the field of the 
white- thorns ; Tullynaskeagh, andKnocknaskeagh, 
both signifying white- thorn hill ; Baunskeha in 
Kilkenny, the green field of the bush ; Aghna- 
skeha, Aghnaskeagh, and Aghnaskew, bushy field 
(achadh) ; Clonskeagh in Dublin, and Cloonskeagh 
in Mayo, the cloon or meadow of the white-thorn 
bushes. Lisnaskea in Fermanagh (the fort of the 
bush), took its name from the celebrated tree called 
Sceath-ghabhra, under which the Maguire used to 
be inaugurated. There are some places in Donegal, 
Fermanagh, and Tyrone, called Skeoge, and we 
have several townlands with the name of Skeheen, 
both these signifying a little bush, or a little bushy 
brake. Skehanagh and Skahanagh, a bushy place, 
are the names of townlands in every part of 
Ireland, except Ulster. 

The furze. Aiteann [attan] is our word for the 
furze ; old Irish, aitten (Cor. GL), Welsh eithin ; 
and it is found chiefly as a termination in two 
different forms, -attin and -attina. The first is 
seen in Cool attin, the name of some places in 
Limerick, Wicklow, and Wexford, signifying the 
corner of the furze ; and the second in Ballyna- 
hattina in Galway, the same as Ballynahatten in 
Down and Louth, and Ballinattin in Waterford 

520 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

and Tipperary, the town of the furze. The Irish 
scholar will remark that in these names the word 
is used in the masculine in the south, and in the 
feminine in the north and west ; and I may re- 
mark here, once for all, that I have also observed 
this difference of gender inflexion according to 
locality, in case of the names of some other natural 

The heath. The common heath erica vulgar is 
is denoted by the word fraech ; as may be ex- 
pected, it enters entensively into names, and 
often er as a termination than otherwise. In the 
beginning of names, and when it stands alone, it 
is usually represented by Freagh and Freugh ; 
thus Freaghillaun is the name of several little 
islands round various parts of the coast, signifying 
heathy island; Freaghmore in Westmeath, and 
Freughmore in Tyrone, great heath. We find, 
however, Freeduff black heath in Armagh and 
Cavan, the same as FreaghdufE in Tipperary. 

As a termination it takes the form -free, which 
exactly represents the pronunciation of the geni- 
tive, fraeigh. Inishfree, a little island in Lough 
Gill, is called by the Four Masters, Inis-fraeich, 
heathy island ; and there are islands of the same 
name off the coast of Donegal, and elsewhere- 
Coolf ree, heathy corner, is a townland near Bally- 
organ in Limerick. When the article is used, the 
^"disappears by aspiration (p. 20), and the word 
becomes -ree ; but then this syllable is often also 
the modern form of righ, a king : Thus Ballinree, 
which is the name of about a dozen townlands, 
might represent either Baile-an-righ, the town of 
the king, or Baik-an-fliraeigh, of the heather. 

The diminutives fraechdn and fraechog but 
principally the former are used to denote the 
bilberry, or whortleberry, or " hurt," as it is called 

Plants. 521 

over a great part of Munster, a contraction of 
"hurtle" or " whortle." In other parts of Ireland 
these berries get their proper Irish name ; and the 
citizens of Dublin are well accustomed to see 
"fraughans" exposed for sale in baskets, by 
women who pick them on the neighbouring hills. 
Freahanes and Frehans, i. e. whortleberries, are 
the names of two townlands, one near Boss Car- 
berry, the other in Tipperary ; and by a change 
of ch to/ (p. 52), it becomes Freffans in Meath. 
On the northern side of Seefin mountain over 
Glenosheen in Limerick, there is a deep glen called 
Lyrenafreaghaun, which represents the Irish 
Ladhar-na-bhfraechdn, the river-branch of the 
whortleberries ; and it produces them as plenti- 
fully to-day as when it got the name. Kilnaf rehan 
in Waterford, and Kylefreaghane in Tipperary, 
bilberry- wood ; Binnafreaghan in Tyrone, the 
peak of the whortleberries. 

The ivy. The different kinds of ivy are denoted 
by the term eidhnedn [ine-aun], which is a diminu- 
tive of the older form eden, as given in Cormac's 
Glossary; Welsh eiddew. In its simple form it 
gives name to Inan in Meath, and to Inane in 
Cork and Tipperary, both meaning an ivy-covered 
place. The adjective form eidhnach [inagh], 
abounding in ivy, is, however, much more com- 
mon, and it occurs in MSS. of authority. There 
is a river in Clare called Inagh, from which a 
parish takes name, and also a river in Donegal, 
flowing into Inver Bay, called Eany (which gives 
name to Gleneany, through which it flows), both 
of which the Four Masters mention by the name 
of Eidhneach, i. e. the ivy-producing river. 

The celebrated monastery of Clonenagh in 
Queen's County was founded by St. Fintan in the 
middle of the sixth century. It is called in O'Clery's 

522 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

Calendar and other Irish documents, Cluain-eidkn- 
cch, which, in the Latin Life of the founder is 
translated Latibulum hederosum, the retreat (i. e. 
the cloon] of the ivy. It is interesting to observe 
that this epithet is as applicable to-day as it was 
in the time of St. Fintan ; for the place produces 
a luxuriant growth of ivy, which clothes the gable 
of the old church, and all the trees in the neigh- 



A REAL or fancied resemblance to different parts 
of the human body, has originated a great variety 
of topographical names all over the country. Most 
of the bodily members have been turned to account 
in this manner : and the natural features compared 
with, and named from them, are generally, but 
not always, hills. 

The head. The word ceann [can], a head, is used 
much in the same way as the English word, to 
denote the head, front, or highest part of anything ; 
and it commonly appears in anglicised names, in 
the forms can, ken, kin. There is a place near 
Callan in Kilkenny called Cannafahy, whose Irish 
name is Ceann-na-faithche, the head of the exercise- 
green ; Kincon in Mayo and Armagh, the hound's 
head, so called from some peculiarity of shape ; 
Kinard, high head or hill ; Kinturk, the head or 
hill of the boar. 

The highest point reached by the tide in a river 
was sometimes designated by the term ceann-mara, 
i. e. the head of the sea ; from a spot of this kind 

CHAP, ix.] Shape and Position. 523 

on the river Roughty, the town of Kenmare in 
Kerry received its name ; and Kinvarra in Gralway 
originated in the same way, for the Four Masters 
call it Ceannmhara. Another compound, ceannsaile 
[cansauly], also used to express the same idea, 
means literally the head of the brine, and from 
this we have the name of Kinsale in Cork, of 
Kinsalebeg in Waterford (beg, little, to distinguish 
it from the preceding), of Kinsaley, a parish north 
of Dublin ; and of Kintale in the parish of Killy- 
garvan in Donegal, in which last the s is eclipsed 
by t. 

The forehead is denoted in Irish by the word 
eudan [edan], which is used topographically to 
signify a hill-brow. There is a small town in 
King's County, another in Antrim, and half a 
dozen townlands in several counties, called Eden- 
derry ; all of which are from the Irish Eudan-doire, 
the hill-brow of the oak-wood. This word, Eden 
always with the same meaning is much used 
in the northern and north-western counties in 
local nomenclature ; it is itself the name of about 
a dozen places ; and it forms the beginning of 
more than 100 other names. It is occasionally 
contracted; as in Ednashanlaght in Tyrone, the 
hill-brow of the old sepulchre (leacht). 

The nose. Sron [srone], the nose, is often ap- 
plied to prominent points of hills, or abrupt pro- 
montories ; and in this sense we sometimes find it 
in townland names ; as in Sroankeeragh in Ros- 
common, the sheep's nose ; Shronebeha in Cork, 
the nose or point of the birch. 

The throat. The word braghad [braud], which 
literally signifies the gullet or windpipe, is locally 
applied to a gorge or deeply-cut glen ; and of this 
application, the river and valley of the Braid near 
Ballymena in Antrim, form a very characteristic 

524 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

example. There are also towulands in Donegal 
and Fermanagh called Braade, which is the same 
word. The diminutive Bradoge, little gorge, is 
the name of a small stream flowing by Grange- 
gorman into the LifEey on the north side of Dublin, 
and of another flowing into the sea at Bundoran in 
Donegal ; and the same word gives name to a 
townland in Monaghan now called Braddocks. 
Sc6rnach is another term for the windpipe ; it is 
applied to a remarkable glen cut through the hills 
near Tallaght in Dublin, now called the gap of 
Ballinascorney, i. e. the town of the gorge ; and 
there is a place called Scornagh on the Lee, three 
miles above Ballincollig. 

The shoulder. Guala orgualann [goola, goolan] 
signifies the shoulder, and was often applied to a hill. 
The village of Shanagolden in Limerick is called 
in Irish authorities, Seanghualann, old shoulder 
or hill, and this is also the Irish name still in use. 

The back. The literal meaning of the word 
druim [drum] is a back, exactly the same as the 
Latin dorsum, with which it is also cognate. In 
its local application, it signifies a long low hill or 
ridge ; and in this sense also it is often translated 
by dorsum. It is one of the most common of all root 
words in Irish names ; its most usual anglicised forms 
are Drum, Drom, and Drim; and these syllables 
begin about 2,400 names of townlands, towns, and 
villages, besides the countless names that contain 
this very prolific root otherwise combined. In 
Munster it is very generally pronounced droum, 
and in many names it is modernised accordingly. 

There are several places in the southern and 
western counties, called Dromada and Dromadda, 
the Irish name of which is Druim-fhada, long 
ridge, the sound of /being wholly sunk by aspira- 
tion (p. 20) ; in some of the northern countie- 

CHAP, ix.] Shape and Position. 525 

the /is retained, and the name becomes Drumfad. 
Drumagh in Queen's County, Drimagh in Wex- 
ford, and Dromagh in Cork, signify ridged land, a 
place full of drums or ridges. 

In many combinations of this word, the d sound 
is lost by aspiration. Aughrim near Ballinasloe in 
Gal way, the scene of the battle of 1691, has its 
name formed in this way ; it is called in Irist 
authorities, Each-dhruim, which Colgan translates 
egui-mons, i. e. horse-hill; and the pronunciation 
of the ancient name is well preserved in the 
modern. There are, besides this, about twenty 
Aughrims in Ireland. Sometimes the d sound is 
changed to that of t, as in Leitrim, the name of 
one of the counties, and of more than forty town- 
lands scattered over Ireland : Liath-dhruim (Four 
Mast.), grey ridge (see Sheetrim, p. 185). 

The diminutive Druimin [Drimmeen], has given 
names to various places now called Drimeen, Dro- 
meen, and Drummeen. Dromainn [drumin], which 
is perhaps a diminutive, also means a ridge, much 
the same as druim itself, and this word originated 
the names of all those places called Dromin, 
Drummin, and Drummans ; in the northern 
counties it is often corrupted to Drummond (p. 62), 
which is the name of about twenty townlands. 
Another development of druim is druimneach or 
druimne, meaning ridges or ridged land, originating 
a new growth of names. For example, Drimnagh 
Castle and parish, three miles south-west from 
Dublin, took the name from the little sand-ridges 
now called the Green Hills. Drimna, Dromnagh, 
and Drumina, the names of places in various parts 
of Ireland, are all different forms of this word. 

The Irish word toin [thone] signifies the back- 
side, exactly the same as the Latin podex. It was 
very often used to designate hills, and also low- 

526 Physical Features. [PART iv. 

lying or bottom lands ; and it usually retains the 
original form ton ; as we see in Tonduff, Tonbaun, 
and Tonroe, black, white, and red backside, 
respectively ; Toneel, in Fermanagh, the bottom 
land of the lime. 

One particular compound, Ton-le-gaeith, which 
literally signifies " backside to the wind," seems to 
have been a favourite term ; for there are a great 
many hills all through the country with this name, 
which are now called Tonlegee. Sometimes the 
preposition re is used instead of le both having 
the same meaning and the name in this case 
becomes Tonregee. In thi